Online Program

Association of meditation and injury in older adults

Monday, November 2, 2015

Stacey L. Tannenbaum, PhD, RD, LD/N, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL
Diana Kachan, PhD, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL
Laura A. McClure, MSPH, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL
David J. Lee, PhD, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL
Background: Serious injuries may substantially and negatively affect the health, longevity, and quality of life of older adults. Catastrophic injuries account for a large proportion of healthcare expenditures among elders, and therefore, instituting methods to reduce their incidence would be valuable. Meditation has been shown to enhance awareness of a practitioner’s environment and thereby may considerably decrease the risk of injuries. We explored the association between different kinds of meditation practice and injury incidence in older adults.

Methods: Data were obtained from the 2012 Alternative Medicine Supplement of the National Health Interview Survey. Participants 65 years and older (n=7,382) were asked if they had engaged in Mantra, Mindfulness, and Spiritual meditation in the previous 12 months. Participants were also asked if they had seen a physician due to an injury in the past 3 months. Logistic regression was then used to model the association between practicing each kind of meditation and experiencing an injury with adjustment for survey design, race/ethnicity, sex, and income.

Results: Spiritual meditation was the most common meditation practiced by the older adults in our sample (1.9%). Compared to not engaging in this meditation, those who practiced Spiritual meditation had significantly lower odds of having had an injury severe enough to visit a physician (Odds ratio=0.15; 95% confidence interval=0.03-0.70). There was a trend towards lower risk of injury among those who practiced Mantra meditation and Mindfulness meditation [(0.21; 0.03-1.08) and (0.40; 0.08-1.88), respectively], but neither reached the level of significance.

Conclusion: Meditation practice has been linked to many health benefits, as well as improved attention and awareness. Although not commonly practiced, we found that Spiritual meditation such as Centering Prayer and Contemplative Meditation was associated with lower injury rates among older adults, with suggestive findings for the other forms of meditation. Mechanisms by which the practice of meditation might lower injury risk are unknown; additional research is needed to identify any causal associations.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Other professions or practice related to public health

Learning Objectives:
List the different types of meditation practices among older adults. Explain which meditation practice was protective of injuries in older adults. Describe what Spiritual meditation entails.

Keyword(s): Aging, Epidemiology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be an abstract author on the content I am responsible for because I have done extensive work in this area and I have written and am applying for a pilot grant on this topic. I have published numerous articles on older adults as well.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.