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Impact of MBSR on Anxiety & Stress in Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review

29 Oct

Researchers from Harvard and McGill Universities performed a systematic review of studies investigating the impact of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on stress and anxiety in healthy, nonclinical adults.

A total of 29 studies (n=2668) were included. Effect-size estimates suggested that MBSR is moderately effective in pre-post analyses (n=26; Hedge's g=.55; 95% CI [.44, .66], p<.00001) and in between-group analyses (n=18; Hedge's g=.53; 95% CI [.41, .64], p<.00001).

Outcomes were maintained at an average of 19 weeks of follow-up and the results suggest large effects on stress, moderate effects on anxiety, depression, distress, and quality of life, and small effects on burnout.

When combined, changes in mindfulness and compassion measures correlated with changes in clinical measures at post-treatment and at follow-up.

However, heterogeneity was high, probably due to differences in the study design, the implemented protocol, and the assessed outcomes.

The investigators conclude that MBSR is moderately effective in reducing stress, depression, anxiety and distress, and in ameliorating the quality of life of healthy individuals, but that more research is warranted to identify the most effective elements of this intervention.

Citation: Khoury B1, Sharma M2, Rush SE3, Fournier C4. Mindfulness-based stress reduction for healthy individuals: A meta-analysis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 2015 Jun;78 (6): pp.519-28. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2015.03.009. Epub 2015 Mar 20. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award.