Controlling chronic pain

Gardner-Nix,  J., et al. (2012). Exploring the Effectiveness of a Mindfulness-Based Chronic Pain Management Course Delivered Simultaneously to On-Site and Off-Site Patients Using Telemedicine. Mindfulness (online journal). Full abstract.

The present study investigated the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based pain management program developed to increase accessibility and acceptability for a severe chronic pain population. … Sixty chronic pain patients completed a 12-week Mindfulness-Based Chronic Pain Management program, while 59 individuals on the waiting list served as a control group. Ages ranged from 32 to 79 (mean age 52). … Program participants showed significant improvements in mental health, pain catastrophizing, and suffering levels, while the controls remained relatively unchanged. Neither group showed significant changes in the physical quality of life measures or usual pain levels.

The present study lends support for the effectiveness of mind–body interventions in improving mental health and suffering in chronic pain sufferers seeking help in tertiary pain clinic settings. It also provides evidence for the usefulness of a mindfulness-based program modified specifically for the chronic pain population, and supports its delivery through telemedicine.



  1. Thanks, Peter. Too bad these articles aren’t available for us to read. However, the conclusions, rather hinted at in the abstract, appear to be clear. Pain does not necessarily mean suffering. And that’s good!

  2. Hi Fran, I tried and I tried, but can’t find a full version of the article. Anything beyond the Abstracts costs $29.95. The publisher (Springer) does not subscribe to “open access” to research.

    The best I can make of the findings — as you do — that pain remains unabated but that ” pain catastrophizing, and suffering levels” showed significant improvements. Very much in line with age-old Buddhist teachings, that pain is pain, and suffering is an add-on (which can be controlled/reduced with mindfulness meditation).

    Just located a meta-analysis of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) in the context of chronic illness ( the author’s conclusions echo those of the article above: “Outcomes in regard to specific variables were difficult to compare and equivocal. Overall, positive change predominated. Chronic diseases are associated with a range of unwelcome psychological and physical consequences. Participation in an MBSR program is likely to result in coping better with symptoms, improved overall well-being and quality of life, and enhanced health outcomes.”

  3. It’s difficult to know what effect meditation had on the actual level of pain (say on a scale of 1 to 10) In their study from the abstract. Can you access the full article, Peter?
    The abstract says, I think, that mindfulness meditation improves mental health and (reduces?) suffering … (but) neither group showed significant changes in physical quality of life measures or usual pain levels.

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