Musculoskeletal Medicine and PainORIGINAL CONTRIBUTION

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in the Management of Chronic Pain and Its Comorbid Depression

Cynthia Marske, DO; Samantha Shah, MD; Aaron Chavira, DO; Caleb Hedberg, DO, MPH; Raelin Fullmer, DO; Christopher James Clark, OMS IV; Olivia Pipitone, MPH; and Paulina Kaiser, DPH
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: October 15, 2019

Accepted: October 28, 2019

Published: August 12, 2020

J Osteopath Med; 120(9): 575-581

Context: Chronic pain (CP) is a common and serious medical condition, with an estimated 100 million people affected in the United States. In the 1990s, opioids were increasingly prescribed to manage chronic pain, and this practice contributed to the opioid epidemic of the 21st century. To combat this epidemic, multidisciplinary approaches to chronic pain management are being researched and implemented.

Objectives: To evaluate the clinical effectiveness of an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course implemented in a semi-rural population with chronic pain.

Methods: Participants were recruited from a community-based teaching hospital in Corvallis, Oregon, for a pre-post study. Participants aged 34 to 77 years who reported having chronic pain lasting for at least 1 year before enrollment were included. Participants took an 8-week group MBSR course in 2.5-hour weekly sessions taught by an experienced MBSR instructor. Techniques were self-practiced between sessions with a goal of 30 minutes per day, 6 days per week. Pre- and postsurvey measurements of pain, depression, and functional capacity were taken via online surveys using the patient health questionnaire (PHQ-9), the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS), and a shortened version of the Modified Oswestry Disability Index (MO). Participants were asked about their satisfaction with the program content, instructor, timing, and location.

Results: Twenty-eight participants were included in the study. Paired t tests found significant improvements in PHQ-9, PCS, and MO percent scores from before to after the course. PHQ-9 scores decreased by a mean of 3.7 points (95% CI, −5.5, −1.8), PCS scores decreased by a mean of 4.6 points (95% CI: −7.2, −2.0), and MO percent score decreased by a mean of 9.4% (95% CI: −14.2%, −4.6%). Results showed an overall downward shift in the distribution of depression, disability, and pain scores after the course.

Conclusions: MBSR classes were found to benefit participants with chronic pain and depression in this setting, fostering significant improvement in participant perceptions of pain, mood, and functional capacity.

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