lancet-header

Preprints with The Lancet is part of SSRN´s First Look, a place where journals identify content of interest prior to publication. Authors have opted in at submission to The Lancet family of journals to post their preprints on Preprints with The Lancet. The usual SSRN checks and a Lancet-specific check for appropriateness and transparency have been applied. Preprints available here are not Lancet publications or necessarily under review with a Lancet journal. These preprints are early stage research papers that have not been peer-reviewed. The findings should not be used for clinical or public health decision making and should not be presented to a lay audience without highlighting that they are preliminary and have not been peer-reviewed. For more information on this collaboration, see the comments published in The Lancet about the trial period, and our decision to make this a permanent offering, or visit The Lancet´s FAQ page, and for any feedback please contact preprints@lancet.com.

The Role of Mindfulness in Moderating Climate Distress During Wildfire Season

21 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2023

See all articles by Joanna Ying Na Guan

Joanna Ying Na Guan

University of California, Davis

Ethan Dutcher

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)

Philippe Goldin

University of California, Davis

Sarah E. Ahmadi

University of Connecticut

Elena Fromer

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)

Sheri D. Weiser

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) - Department of Medicine

Edward W. Maibach

George Mason University - Center for Climate Change Communication

Aric A. Prather

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) - Aging, Metabolism and Emotions Center

Elissa S. Epel

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) - Aging, Metabolism and Emotions Center

More...

Abstract

Background: Extreme worry about climate change can lead to maladaptive climate distress, defined as avoiding negative thoughts and feelings about climate. Avoiding negative thoughts and feelings (“experiential avoidance”) is a risk factor for clinical depression and anxiety. Greater ability for mindful metacognition may lead to greater tolerance of negative feelings and thus less maladaptive climate distress.

Methods: To test this hypothesis, we assessed climate distress in a community sample of adults (n=501) from the San Francisco Bay Area, before and after the severe wildfire season in 2021. Specifically, we measured experiential avoidance of distress about climate at baseline and 6 months later after the wildfire season.

Findings: At baseline, climate distress was higher in women, and among people with lower trait mindfulness, higher generalized anxiety, and more liberal political ideology. Climate distress significantly increased across the sample after the wildfire season. However, this increase occurred in individuals with low mindfulness, but not high mindfulness, at baseline.

Interpretation: As climate disasters become more frequent and severe, the ability to face the existential threat without severe distress will be an important adaptive ability and is hypothesized to help people stay engaged in climate actions. Here, we show that mindfulness may be a useful aid in maintaining lower climate distress over time, despite wildfire exposure.

Funding: This work was supported by the National Institute of Aging (NIA) R24AG048024 (to ESE) and the Fisher Family Trust.

Declaration of Interest: All authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval: This study was approved by the local Institutional Review Board. Participants provided informed consent and completed a baseline survey and a follow-up survey

Keywords: climate change, climate distress, wildfires, mindfulness, political ideology

Suggested Citation

Guan, Joanna Ying Na and Dutcher, Ethan and Goldin, Philippe and Ahmadi, Sarah E. and Fromer, Elena and Weiser, Sheri D. and Maibach, Edward W. and Prather, Aric A. and Epel, Elissa S., The Role of Mindfulness in Moderating Climate Distress During Wildfire Season. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4589850 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4589850

Joanna Ying Na Guan (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis ( email )

Ethan Dutcher

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) ( email )

1701 Divisadero St
unit 5
San Francisco, CA CA 94115-3011
United States

Philippe Goldin

University of California, Davis ( email )

Sarah E. Ahmadi

University of Connecticut ( email )

Storrs, CT 06269-1063
United States

Elena Fromer

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) ( email )

1701 Divisadero St
unit 5
San Francisco, CA CA 94115-3011
United States

Sheri D. Weiser

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) - Department of Medicine ( email )

San Francisco, CA
United States

Edward W. Maibach

George Mason University - Center for Climate Change Communication ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

Aric A. Prather

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) - Aging, Metabolism and Emotions Center ( email )

982 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94103
United States

Elissa S. Epel

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) - Aging, Metabolism and Emotions Center ( email )

982 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94103
United States

Click here to go to TheLancet.com

Paper statistics

Downloads
59
Abstract Views
243
PlumX Metrics