Wachholtz, A. B., & Pargament, K. I. (2005). Is spirituality a critical ingredient of meditation? Comparing the effects of spiritual meditation, secular meditation, and relaxation on spiritual, psychological, cardiac, and pain outcomes. Journal of behavioral medicine, 28(4), 369-384. Full text.
Abstract. This study compared secular and spiritual forms of meditation to assess the benefits of a spiritual intervention.
Participants were taught a meditation or relaxation technique to practice for 20 min a day for two weeks. After two weeks, participants returned to the lab, practiced their technique for 20 min, and placed their hand in a cold-water bath of 2◦C for as long as they could endure it. The length of time that individuals kept their hand in the water bath was measured. Pain, anxiety, mood, and the spiritual health were assessed following the two-week intervention.
Significant interactions occurred (time × group); the Spiritual Meditation group had greater decreases in anxiety and more positive mood, spiritual health, and spiritual experiences than the other two groups. They also tolerated pain almost twice as long as the other two groups.
Chapin, H. L., Darnall, B. D., Seppala, E. M., Doty, J. R., Hah, J. M., & Mackey, S. C. (2014). Pilot study of a compassion meditation intervention in chronic pain. Journal of Compassionate Health Care, 1(1), 1-12. Full Text.
The emergence of anger as an important predictor of chronic pain outcomes suggests that treatments that target anger may be particularly useful within the context of chronic pain. Eastern traditions prescribe compassion cultivation to treat persistent anger. Compassion cultivation has been shown to influence emotional processing and reduce negativity bias in the contexts of emotional and physical discomfort, thus suggesting it may be beneficial as a dual treatment for pain and anger.
Our objective was to conduct a pilot study of a 9-week group compassion cultivation intervention in chronic pain to examine its effect on pain severity, anger, pain acceptance and pain-related interference. We also aimed to describe observer ratings provided by patients’ significant others and secondary effects of the intervention. Twelve chronic pain patients completed the intervention (F = 10). Data were collected from patients at enrollment, treatment baseline and post-treatment; participant significant others contributed data at the enrollment and post-treatment time points.
In this predominantly female sample, patients had significantly reduced pain severity and anger and increased pain acceptance at post-treatment compared to treatment baseline. Significant other qualitative data corroborated patient reports for reductions in pain severity and anger.
Wells, R. E., et al. (2014). Meditation for Migraines: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain. Epub ahead of print.
From the Abstract: Our objective was to assess the safety, feasibility, and effects of the standardized 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course in adults with migraines.
Stress is a well-known trigger for headaches. Research supports the general benefits of mind/body interventions for migraines, but there are few rigorous studies supporting the use of specific standardized interventions. MBSR is a standardized 8-week mind/body intervention that teaches mindfulness meditation/yoga. Preliminary research has shown MBSR to be effective for chronic pain syndromes, but it has not been evaluated for migraines.
We conducted a randomized controlled trial with 19 episodic migraineurs randomized to either MBSR (n = 10) or usual care (n = 9). Our primary outcome was change in migraine frequency from baseline to initial follow-up. Secondary outcomes included change in headache severity, duration, self-efficacy, perceived stress, migraine-related disability/impact, anxiety, depression, mindfulness, and quality of life from baseline to initial follow-up.
CONCLUSIONS: MBSR is safe and feasible for adults with migraines. Although the small sample size of this pilot trial did not provide power to detect statistically significant changes in migraine frequency or severity, secondary outcomes demonstrated this intervention had a beneficial effect on headache duration, disability, self-efficacy, and mindfulness.
Day, M. A., Jensen, M. P., Ehde, D. M., & Thorn, B. E. (2014). Toward a Theoretical Model for Mindfulness-Based Pain Management. The Journal of Pain, 15(7), 691-703. Abstract.
Mindfulness, as both a process and a practice, has received substantial research attention across a range of health conditions, including chronic pain. Previously proposed mechanisms underlying the potential health-related benefits of mindfulness and mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are based on a strong theoretical background. However, to date, an empirically grounded, integrated theoretical model of the mechanisms of MBIs within the context of chronic pain has yet to be proposed.
This is a surprising gap in the literature given the exponential growth of studies reporting on the benefits of MBIs for heterogeneous chronic pain conditions. Moreover, given the importance of determining how, and for whom, psychological interventions for pain management are effective, it is imperative that this gap in the literature be addressed. The overarching aim of the current theoretical paper was to propose an initial integrated, theoretically driven, and empirically based model of the mechanisms of MBIs for chronic pain management. Theoretical and research implications of the model are discussed.
The theoretical considerations proposed herein can be used to help organize and guide future research that will identify the mechanisms underlying the benefits of mindfulness-based treatments, and perhaps psychosocial treatments more broadly, for chronic pain management.