Efficacy of the Mindfulness Meditation Mobile App “Calm” to Reduce Stress Among College Students: Randomized Controlled Trial

02/01/2024

Huberty J, Green J, Glissmann C, Larkey L, Puzia M, Lee C. Efficacy of the Mindfulness Meditation Mobile App “Calm” to Reduce Stress Among College Students: Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth 2019;7(6):e14273 doi:10.2196/14273

This study examined the sustained stress reduction, mindfulness, and self-compassion in a sample of college students following an 8-week trial of the “Calm” app. Most college students (75%) report elevated stress during the semester, resulting in higher stress levels in this population compared to other age groups. Elevated stress has been associated with a greater likelihood of suicide attempts, which are the second leading cause of death in teens and young adults (ages 15-24). Mindfulness interventions have been offered on college campuses in an effort to reduce students stress levels. The Calm app is a consumer-based mindfulness meditation mobile app. Here, 109 Arizona State University students were randomized to participate in daily meditation facilitated by the Calm app or waitlisted for future access. Most participants (85%) enjoyed the app and continued to use the app for the additional month offered after the study ended. Participants used Calm for an average of 38 minutes/week. After 8 weeks, users displayed lower stress levels than baseline and compared to control participants (p < 0.05). In addition, participants showed increased mindfulness (p < 0.001) and increased self-compassion (p < 0.001) compared to the control group. These beneficial effects of “Calm” guided meditation were maintained through the follow-up period, four weeks after the intervention. This data is encouraging for the future of digital mindfulness interventions to promote stress reduction in college students.