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Mindfulness Meditation: A New Treatment For Fibromyalgia?

Science Daily ? Fibromyalgia has emerged as a common, yet difficult to treat disorder. A group of investigators of the University of Basel has proposed a new modality of treatment in the July issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) proposes a systematic program for reduction of suffering associated with a wide range of medical conditions.

Studies suggest improvements in general aspects of well-being, including quality of life (QoL), coping and positive affect, as well as decreased anxiety and depression. A quasi-experimental study examined effects of an 8-week MBSR intervention among 58 female patients with fibromyalgia (mean, 52 ? 8 years) who underwent MBSR or an active social support procedure.

Participants were assigned to groups by date of entry, and 6 subjects dropped out during the study. Self-report measures were validated German inventories and included the following scales: visual analog pain, pain perception, coping with pain, a symptom checklist and QoL.

Pre- and postintervention measurements were made. Additionally, a 3-year follow-up was carried out on a subgroup of 26 participants. Pre- to postintervention analyses indicated MBSR to provide significantly greater benefits than the control intervention on most dimensions, including visual analog pain, QoL subscales, coping with pain, anxiety, depression and somatic complaints (Cohen d effect size, 0.40-1.10).

Three-year follow-up analyses of MBSR participants indicated sustained benefits for these same measures (effect size, 0.50-0.65). Based upon a quasi-randomized trial and long-term observational follow-up, results indicate mindfulness intervention to be of potential long-term benefit for female fibromyalgia patients.

Reference: Paul Grossman, Ulrike Tiefenthaler-Gilmer, Annette Raysz, Ulrike Kesper. Mindfulness Training as an Intervention for Fibromyalgia: Evidence of Postintervention and 3-Year Follow-Up Benefits in Well-Being. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics 2007;76:226-233

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.
 

healthbound

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Re: MBSR- New Treatment for Fibromyalgia

Thanks for posting this. I am interested to find out a bit more about what the resulting numbers mean (ie: "Cohen d effect size, 0.40-1.10").

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia last year. Even though I'm now on medication for it, I had an opportunity to do acupuncture, meditation and yoga regularly for about 3 months through an out patient program for mental health and addictions. I experienced a noticeable improvement with my anxiety, depression, pain and concentration. I was also experiencing a sleep disorder, which I believe is common for people with fibromyalgia. I wondered if the mere act of taking as little as 20 minutes a day to relax my body and mind allowed my cells to do what they might normally do during sleep (which I imagine is to rest and repair). Regardless, I remember feeling like I was beginning to gain some control over my mind and body again. I also remember that my sleep began to get better.

Anyway, there's me 3cents :)
 

David Baxter

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Re: MBSR- New Treatment for Fibromyalgia

Thanks for posting this. I am interested to find out a bit more about what the resulting numbers mean (ie: "Cohen d effect size, 0.40-1.10").

That's a statistical measure of the size of the difference between groups.

As an example from memory, several studies have shown differences in Verbal vs. Performance IQ scores for criminal offenders. Others have shown significant differences in Full Scale IQ for Caucasions vs. Blacks vs. Asians. The differences are statistically significant. However, with large enough sample sizes, even a small difference may be statistically significant but may have little or no practical meaning, which is the case for the racial/ethnic studies. In addition, there are other factors which differ among racial/ethinic groups and between criminal offenders and non-offenders, notably education, which is known to be highly correlated with Verbal IQ.

Thus, the fact that a study reports a statistically significant difference between or among groups doesn't by itself tell us the whole story. The concept of effects size is a way of quantifying how large a statistically significant difference is, which is one way to evaluate whether that difference has any practical significance.
 

healthbound

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Hmmm...so, based on this article, we can't really tell whether MBSR was helpful to the participants?
 

David Baxter

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No. The authors conclude that it was beneficial:

Pre- to postintervention analyses indicated MBSR to provide significantly greater benefits than the control intervention on most dimensions, including visual analog pain, QoL subscales, coping with pain, anxiety, depression and somatic complaints (Cohen d effect size, 0.40-1.10).

Three-year follow-up analyses of MBSR participants indicated sustained benefits for these same measures (effect size, 0.50-0.65). Based upon a quasi-randomized trial and long-term observational follow-up, results indicate mindfulness intervention to be of potential long-term benefit for female fibromyalgia patients.

The conclusion is also consistent with other studies finding that various other stress-reduction strategies are also beneficial.
 

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