trauma-exposed homeless women practicing mindfulness to recover

Trauma-exposed homeless women are participating in a trial that incorporates mindfulness techniques into their recovery.

UCI Sue & Bill Gross School of  Nursing Assistant adjunct professor Dana Rose Garfin, PhD, is the principal investigator on a clinical trial to implement a mindfulness-based intervention for homeless women who have been exposed to trauma. 

The trial, funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), began last year and runs through 2024.

Homeless trauma is common

Trauma, unfortunately, is very common. “When we recruited for the first part of the study, sadly, it was easy,” Garfin says.

“Nearly all of the women met the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder.”

The 134 women participating in the clinical trial will explore such mindfulness concepts as:

  • Gentle yoga
  • Meditation
  • Body scans
  • Self-check ins

“What all that does is activate the rest process and help regulate the activation of fight or flight response,” says Garfin.

Measuring the impact of mindfulness

In addition to mindfulness techniques, Garfin and her team will give the participants a stress test, test cortisol levels, conduct interviews, and assess their PTSD, anxiety and depression.

The women participating are in various stages of transitioning out of homelessness. Garfin says the study is a supplement to the care they’re receiving.