On January 13 the insurance giant announced in a press release its commitment to bringing mindfulness to its membership. Aetna, in conjunction with eMindful, Duke Integrative Medicine, and the Viniyoga Institute, has been conducting a randomized controlled trial of two methods of stress reduction, one of them being mindfulness-based stress reduction. Early results for both mindfulness and yoga show significant benefits for participants.
In 2010, 239 Aetna employees volunteered to participate in a mind-body stress reduction program including mindfulness meditation and yoga. The 12-week mindfulness meditation-based online program was developed and offered by eMindful. Participants interacted using video, audio and instant messaging chat or in-person instruction. Among other things, participants learned stress reduction techniques, more effective management of workload and better ways to prioritize tasks to increase efficiency and effectiveness.
“Helping people take control of their health is a critical step in achieving better health and reducing the cost of health care,” said Aetna CEO and president Mark Bertolini in the press release. "Stress takes a significant toll on physical and mental health. We want to understand, and also demonstrate, whether integrative medicine can offer our members options that both better suit their lifestyles and can be proven to improve their health. We will continue to build an evidence base for the mind-body approach to health.”