Beneficial for asthma?

Paudyal, P., et al. (2018). Meditation for asthma: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Asthma55(7), 771-778, https://doi.org/10.1080/02770903.2017.1365887. 

From the AbstractOur review suggests that there is some evidence that meditation is beneficial in improving quality of life in asthma patients. As two out of four studies in our review were of poor quality, further trials with better methodological quality are needed to support or refute this finding.

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Enhances body image in breast cancer patients

Pintado, Sheila, and Sandra Andrade. “Randomized controlled trial of mindfulness program to enhance body image in patients with breast cancer.” European Journal of Integrative Medicine, online June 1, 2017, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eujim.2017.05.009.

Introduction. Breast cancer affects the thoughts and emotions related to patient’s body image and it has a negative impact in their quality of life. The purpose of this study was to conduct a randomized controlled trial in patients with breast cancer comparing mindfulness training to improve body image with a program based on personal image advice.

Method. A total of 29 women with breast cancer were randomly allocated into one of 2 groups: an experimental (mindfulness program) and control (personal image advice) group. The assessment tools were semi-structured interviews and the BIS and SBC questionnaires. Data was analyzed using quantitative techniques.

Results. The mindfulness program was effective in decreasing negative thoughts and emotions related to body image and dissociation (p < .01), and in increasing positive thoughts and body awareness (p<.01). Moreover, there were significant differences in body image between control and experimental group (F(1,28) = 12.616; p<.01; ηp2=.335).

Conclusion. The mindfulness program was useful in improving psychological and emotional changes related to body image in breast cancer patients. Changes in body image are a key component in the treatment of breast cancer patients with the ability to improve the patient’s quality of life.

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.

Efficacy of meditation on stress-related outcomes (review)

Goyal, M., et al.  (2014). Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-Being. Comparative Effectiveness Reviews, No. 124. Full text.

Objective: Meditation, a mind-body method, employs a variety of techniques designed to facilitate the mind’s capacity to affect bodily function and symptoms. An increasing number of patients are using meditation programs despite uncertainty about the evidence supporting the health benefits of meditation. We aimed to determine the efficacy and safety of meditation programs on stress-related outcomes (e.g., anxiety, depression, stress, distress, well-being, positive mood, quality of life, attention, health-related behaviors affected by stress, pain, and weight) compared with an active control in diverse adult clinical populations.

Conclusions: Meditation programs, in particular mindfulness programs, reduce multiple negative dimensions of psychological stress. Stronger study designs are needed to determine the effects of meditation programs in improving the positive dimensions of mental health as well as stress-related behavioral outcomes.

Physical impairment and pychological well-being in people with ALS

Pagnini, F., et al. (2014). Mindfulness, Physical Impairment and Psychological Well-Being in People with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Psychology & Health, (just-accepted), 1-27.

Abstract. Mindfulness is the process of actively making new distinctions, rather than relying on habitual or automatic categorizations from the past. Mindfulness has been positively associated with physical well-being, better recovery rates from disease or infections, pain reduction and overall quality of life.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a rare, progressive and fatal neurodegenerative disease, clinically characterized by progressively increasing weakness leading to death, usually within five years. There is presently no cure for ALS, and it is considered one of the most genetically and biologically-driven illnesses. Thus far, the aims of psychological studies on ALS have focused on understanding patient – and, to a lesser extent, caregiver – quality of life and psychological well-being. No previous study has investigated the influence of psychological factors on ALS.

A sample of 197 subjects with ALS were recruited and assessed online twice, with a duration of four months between the two assessments. Assessment included measurements of trait mindfulness, physical impairment, quality of life, anxiety, and depression. The influence of mindfulness as predictor of changes in physical impairments was evaluated with a mixed-effects model.

Mindfulness positively influenced the change of physical symptoms. Subjects with higher mindfulness experienced a slower progression of the disease after 4 months. Moreover, mindfulness at first assessment predicted higher quality of life and psychological well-being.

The available data indicate that a psychological construct – mindfulness – can attenuate the progress of a disease that is believed to be almost solely biologically-driven. The potential implications of these results extend well beyond ALS.

Self-compassion as intervention for trauma exposure

Seligowski, A. V., Miron, L. R., & Orcutt, H. K. (2014). Relations Among Self-Compassion, PTSD Symptoms, and Psychological Health in a Trauma-Exposed Sample. Mindfulness, 1-9.

From the Abstract. Emerging literature on self-compassion suggests that establishing and maintaining a compassionate perspective toward oneself and one’s experiences may help buffer against the negative effects of trauma exposure, such as psychopathology and reduced quality of life.

The goal of the current study was to examine relations among self-compassion, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom severity, and overall psychological health in a sample of trauma-exposed university students. Further, the current study explored these associations while controlling for a theoretically related construct, psychological inflexibility. Participants were 453 undergraduate students enrolled in an introductory psychology course at a large Midwestern University (M age = 19.75).

Results demonstrate that increasing levels of self-compassion may represent an important area of intervention for trauma-exposed individuals.

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.