| cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Mindfulness Meditation—Help for Chronic Pain Relief and Depression

Meta-Analysis Suggests Value of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Fresh affirmation of the value of mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) in the management of chronic pain has been provided by a new meta-analysis of data from 21 studies spanning almost 2,000 patients with pain. The research compared the effectiveness of mindfulness to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in attenuating pain and pain related conditions including depression. MBSR is a group based intervention that works to build acceptance of experiences in the moment including pain and associated emotional distress. The  Canadian research team concluded that MBSR was equally effective with the more commonly engaged CBT in dimensions including restoration of physical function, reduction in reported pain levels, and lessening of depression. According to the authors, "Although a number of recommendations have been proposed to improve CBT for patients with chronic pain, an additional solution may be to offer patients MBSR since it shows promise in improving pain severity and reducing pain interference and psychological distress." The findings were published in the current edition of Evidence-Based Mental Health.

Patients in the studies selected for review in the meta-analysis were predominantly women, aged 35 to 65, and presenting with pain conditions including musculoskeletal pain, fibromyalgia, low back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and temporomandibular disorder. 13 studies compared CBT to control cohorts, 7 compared MBSR to control, and 1 study compared both MBSR and CBT to control. The authors point to this paucity of head-to-head data in concluding that they could not differentially determine the effectiveness of CBT or MBSR for various pain or pain related conditions, writing that “Additional and more rigorous research that compares CBT and MBSR directly and includes more information about patient characteristics, therapist training and treatment adherence is needed to draw definitive conclusions to inform guidelines.”

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Read about the conclusions.

The journal article may be read here.

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