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Mindfulness (MBSR) for Asthma Improves Quality of Life but Not Lung Function

19 Nov

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, MA studied the efficacy of a mindfulness training program (MBSR or mindfulness-based stress reduction) in improving asthma-related quality of life and lung function in patients with asthma.

A randomized controlled trial compared an 8-week MBSR group-based program with 42 subjects  (n=42) to an educational control program with 241 subjects (n=41) in adults with mild, moderate or severe persistent asthma, recruited at a university hospital’s outpatient primary care and pulmonary care services.

The primary outcomes assessed were quality of life (Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire) and lung function (change from baseline in the 2-week average morning peak expiratory flow or PEF). Secondary outcomes were asthma control, as assessed by 2007 National Institutes of Health/National Heart Lung and Blood Institute guidelines; and stress (Perceived Stress Scale or PSS). Follow-up assessments were conducted at 10 weeks, 6 and 12 months.

At 12 months the MBSR group showed clinically significant improvements in quality of life [differential change in Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire score for MBSR vs control: 0.66 (95% CI 0.30 to 1.03; p<0.001)] but not in lung function (morning PEF, PEF variability and forced expiratory volume in 1 s).

The MBSR group also showed clinically significant improvements in perceived stress (differential change in PSS score for MBSR vs control: -4.5 (95% CI -7.1 to -1.9; p=0.001)).
There was no significant difference (p=0.301) in percentage of patients in MBSR with well controlled asthma (7.3% at baseline to 19.4%) compared with the control condition (7.5% at baseline to 7.9%).

MBSR was associated with lasting and clinically significant improvements in asthma-related quality of life and in stress levels in patients with persistent asthma, but did not appear to produce improvements in lung function.

Citation:  Pbert L, Madison JM, Druker S, Olendzki N, Magner R, Reed G, Allison J, Carmody J. Effect of mindfulness training on asthma quality of life and lung function: a randomised controlled trial. Thorax. 2012 Sep;67(9):769-76. doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2011-200253. Epub 2012 Apr 27.

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