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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Washington, Group Health Study: Mindfulness Meditation Eases Low Back Pain

Chronic low-back pain can be alleviated by mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), according to a recent study.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was led by Dr. Daniel Cherkin, a senior scientific investigator at the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle and affiliate professor of health services at the University of Washington School of Public Health.

Researchers enrolled 342 adults with chronic low back pain in a clinical trial. Participants received training in mindfulness meditation and yoga (MBSR), training in how to change their pain-related thoughts and behavior (CBT), or usual care. MBSR and CBT were delivered in eight weekly, two-hour groups. Outcomes were assessed at four, eight, 26 and 52 weeks.

At 26 and 52 weeks, participants using MBSR and CBT experienced greater improvement in function and back pain compared to those who received usual care. Those using MBSR continued to see improvement at 52 weeks, leading researchers to conclude it may be an effective way to treat chronic lower back pain.

The study was funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, part of the National Institutes of Health.