Comparing the Effectiveness of Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction and Multidisciplinary Intervention Programs for Chronic Pain: A Randomized Comparative Trial

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Abstract

Objectives

Research suggests that an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program (a structured form of meditation) might be effective in the treatment of various health problems including chronic pain. Our objective was to compare the clinical effectiveness of the MBSR program with a multidisciplinary pain intervention (MPI) program in terms of pain intensity, pain-related distress, quality of life, and mood in patients with chronic pain.

Methods

A randomized, comparative clinical trial was conducted, including 6-month posttreatment follow-up. Ninety-nine participants, aged 24 to 64 years, with pain for a minimum of 3 months, were recruited from community-based clinics, hospitals, and community service centers. Participants were randomly allocated to either the MBSR program (51 participants) or a MPI program (48 participants). The study used validated Chinese versions of self-reported questionnaires measuring pain, mood symptoms, and health-related quality of life.

Results

Thirty-nine participants (77%) completed the MBSR program and 44 (90%) completed the MPI program. Patients in both the groups were comparable with regard to demographical characteristics, pain intensity, mood symptoms, and health-related quality-of-life measures before intervention. In both the groups, patients who completed the trial demonstrated statistically significant improvements in pain intensity and pain-related distress. However, no statistically significant differences were observed in overall results between the MBSR and MPI groups.

Conclusions

This randomized, clinical trial showed that both MBSR and MPI programs reduced pain intensity and pain-related distress although no statistically significant differences were observed between the 2 groups and the improvements were small.

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