Study shows guided mindful reflection reduces stress

What do we know about the benefits of making mindful reflections with Enjo? Enjo’s predecessor was tested in an academic study, conducted together with Professor Gerhard Andersson at Linköping University and the Karolinska Institute. The results showed that making mindful reflections regularly for two weeks lowered stress and improved subjective well-being, compared to a control group. This was the first study in the world to investigate how a chatbot can affect these measurements via guided mindful reflections.

This randomized controlled trial has been published in Internet Interventions, one of the world’s leading scientific journals in the field of digital psychology. This means that the study has been reviewed and approved by independent researchers.

Since it was a pilot study, the number of participants was limited to 28 people, who were randomized to either use the app or to be on a waiting list for two weeks. Before the study started, both groups filled out measurements to assess levels of emotional well-being, stress levels, and perceived quality of life. When the study ended, the two groups filled out the same self-assessments again.

The results showed that those who talked to our app regularly during the study experienced less stress and higher emotional well-being than those in the control group. There was also a difference in perceived quality of life, but that difference was not significant (that is, it cannot be excluded that that difference may have been by chance).

Qualitative interviews were also conducted to examine what the participants thought was the biggest value of the app. Help to reflect, expressing positive thoughts to others, and it’s availability were the values that most participants highlighted. A couple of quotes from the study that illustrate this:

“No other app has made it so easy to reflect on things in life as this app. You get so much more out of your time than you do on Facebook or some web page because you reflect on important things.”

“The best thing about the app is that it made me do things I would not have done otherwise, positive things such as showing appreciation and gratitude to others.”

“A big advantage was that I could pick up the app whenever I wanted. For me, knowing I had it with me all the time, and that I got to talk to it every day made me get a nice, positive feeling.”

The study also showed that study participants were very active on the app: on average 1.3 times per day during this two week period, which is higher than any other studies of using apps without any human contact. Studies with the highest activity show activity levels below once a day on average.

This was a pilot study with a limited number of participants, but Professor Gerhard Andersson feels the results are very promising. He says there is a lot to gain by using modern technology in this way and would like to continue the evaluation with larger groups.

We are, of course, happy to hear this and are looking forward to collaborating on more research in the future!

The study can be read in its entirety here.