Jeremy Grimshaw
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Julia Littell
Bryn Mawr College, USA

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Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction programs for improving health and wellbeing in adults

Michael De Vibe, Arild Bjørndal, Elizabeth Tipton, Karianne Thune Hammerstrøm, Krystyna Kowalski  
Social Welfare  
Mind-body interventions to manage stress-related health problems are of widespread interest. One of the best known methods is mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), andMBSR courses are now offered by health services, as well as in social and welfare settings. In this systematic review, we report on the effects of MBSR interventions on health, quality of life, and social functioning. From the more than 3,000 potentially relevant references identified in two extensive searches, we included 31 relevant studies with an overall total of 1,942 participants, each of whom had been randomised to receive MBSR or other treatment strategies (most often a waiting list control). We utilised all outcome data published in the selected studies using a new statistical method for calculating the effect size. This method addressed the problems presented by the interdependence of many measurements of outcomes.

26 of the 31 studies were identified as having data suitable for meta-analysis. MBSR was found to have a moderate and consistent positive effect on mental health outcomes in both patients selected with somatic problems and with mild to moderate psychological problems, and among participants recruited from community settings. MBSR interventions improved outcomes measuring different aspects of personal development and quality of life. The effects on somatic health outcomes were somewhat smaller. No adverse effects were described. Few studies were found that evaluated the impact of MBSR on social functioning, such as the ability to work.