For people with multiple sclerosis

Spitzer, Elizabeth, and Kenneth I. Pakenham. “Evaluation of a brief community‐based mindfulness intervention for people with multiple sclerosis: A pilot study.” Clinical Psychologist (2016). Abstract.

Objective. Mindfulness-based interventions can improve quality of life (QoL) in people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS); however, the potential benefits of brief mindfulness group programs delivered in community settings have not been investigated with this population. This pilot study evaluated a brief (five-session) community-based group mindfulness program for PwMS.

Method. Participants were 23 PwMS recruited through Multiple Sclerosis Queensland, Australia. The study had a single intervention condition with pre-intervention, post-intervention and eight-week follow-up assessments. Primary outcomes were QoL, psychological distress and fatigue, and secondary outcomes were mindfulness, self-compassion, and acceptance.

Results. Analyses revealed improvements in psychological distress, perceived stress, the mental health QoL dimension, mindfulness, self-compassion, and acceptance. All participants agreed they would recommend the program to others with multiple sclerosis and most reported that the program was helpful and enjoyable. Qualitative data showed that participants gained in present moment awareness, coping skills, self-compassion, acceptance, support, and changed perspectives.

Conclusions. Results suggest that brief mindfulness interventions may improve psychological wellbeing in PwMS; however, a longer intervention period or programs that incorporate mindful movement activities may be needed to bring about improvements in physical health QoL dimensions and fatigue.

Meditation and quality of life in people with MS

Levin, A.B., Hadgkiss, E.J., Weiland, T.K., Jelinek, G.J. (2014). Meditation as an Adjunct to the Management of Multiple Sclerosis. Neurology Research International. Full text.

From the Abstract. To explore the association between band health related quality of life (HRQOL), depression, fatigue, disability level, relapse rates and disease activity in a large international sample of people with multiple sclerosis.

Participants were invited to take part in an online survey and answer questions relating to HRQOL, depression, fatigue, disability, relapse rates and their involvement in meditation practises.

Statistically and potentially clinically significant differences between those who meditated once a week or more, and participants who never meditated were present for mean mental health composite scores, cognitive function scale and health perception scale. … Physical health composite scores were higher in those that meditated, however, the differences were probably not clinically significant. Among those who meditated, fewer screened positive for depression, but there was no relationship with fatigue or relapse rate. Those with worsened disability levels were more likely to meditate.

Positive effects in the management of MS (review)

Levin, A. B., Hadgkiss, E. J., Weiland, T. J., & Jelinek, G. A. (2014). Meditation as an Adjunct to the Management of Multiple Sclerosis. Neurology Research International. Full text.

From the Abstract. Multiple sclerosis (MS) disease course is known to be adversely affected by several factors including stress. A proposed mechanism for decreasing stress and therefore decreasing MS morbidity and improving quality of life is meditation. This review aims to critically analyse the current literature regarding meditation and MS.

Four major databases were used to search for English language papers published before March 2014 with the terms MS, multiple sclerosis, meditation, and mindfulness. 12 pieces of primary literature fitting the selection criteria were selected: two were randomised controlled studies, four were cohort studies, and six were surveys. The current literature varies in quality; however common positive effects of meditation include improved quality of life (QOL) and improved coping skills.

All studies suggest possible benefit to the use of meditation as an adjunct to the management of multiple sclerosis. Additional rigorous clinical trials are required to validate the existing findings and determine if meditation has an impact on disease course over time.

Multiple sclerosis: systematic review

Simpson, R., et al. (2014). Mindfulness based interventions in multiple sclerosis — a systematic review. BMC neurology, 14(1), 15. Full text.

Conclusions: Although the evidence is limited, this review indicates that MBIs can hold benefit for people with MS, specifically in terms of quality of life, mental health, and some physical aspects of the condition. It is unclear at this time whether these result are generalisable to different ethnic groups; both genders; all age groups; different disease phenotypes; and diverse socio-economic groups. There is no evidence regarding health service utilisation costs. It also remains unclear what benefit MBIs may hold for people with more advanced MS. Further high quality studies are needed to clarify the feasibility, practicality, acceptability, health and psychosocial benefits of MBIs for people with MS.