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A Review Of The Reviews Gives Mindfulness A Qualified Thumbs Up

12 May

There’s been mixed opinion about how effective mindfulness-based therapies are for different conditions and mental health challenges. 

So, a research team of investigators from Erasmus MC in the Netherlands and Harvard University in the U.S. systematically reviewed the evidence of the effectiveness MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) and MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy) in different health and mental health challenge categories.

The search produced 187 reviews: 23 were included, covering 115 unique RCT’s (randomized clinical trials) and a total of 8,683 unique subjects with various conditions.

Compared to wait list control and compared to treatment as usual, MBSR and MBCT significantly improved depressive symptoms, (based on five reviews) anxiety, (based on four reviews) stress, (based on two reviews) quality of life, (based on two reviews) and physical functioning (based on three reviews).

Limitations included heterogeneity within patient categories, risk of publication bias and limited long-term follow-up in several studies.

Nonetheless, the evidence supports the use of MBSR and MBCT to alleviate symptoms, both mental and physical, in the adjunct treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic pain, depression, anxiety disorders and in prevention in healthy adults and children.

Citation: Gotink RA1, Chu P2, Busschbach JJ3, Benson H4, Fricchione GL5, Hunink MG6. Standardized mindfulness-based interventions in healthcare: an overview of systematic reviews and meta-analyses of RCTs. PLoS One. 2015 Apr 16;10 (4): e0124344. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0124344. eCollection 2015 

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