Centre for Confidence and Well-being

Skip to content

Research into the benefits of mindfulness

Improved General Well-being

1. In an urban study in 2004 an eight week mindfulness-based stress-reduction (MBSR) programme showed significant improvement in the participants’ emotional and social functioning, as well as their general health and vitality. Although no impact on physical functioning was detected, the participants found themselves more capable of working and performing their activities of daily living. These improvements were reflected in an overall improvement in their health-related quality of life. The size of these benefits tend to increase with more frequent mindfulness practice, and are most pronounced in experienced mindfulness practitioners. – (Roth, B. and Robbins, D., “Mindfulness based stress reduction and health related quality of life: finding from a bilingual inner-city patient population”, Psychosomatic Medicine, 2004: 66(1):112-23)

2. The number of visits made by urban patients to their healthcare provider was substantially reduced following the completion of a MBSR training programme.- (Roth, B., and Stanley, T.W., “Mindfulness-stress reduction and healthcare utilization in the inner city preliminary finding”, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 2002: 8(1): 60-2, 64-6)

Stress Reduction & Improvement in Coping & Self-Management

1. An analysis of 20 published and unpublished studies of MBSR included studies of a wide range of different patients (pain, cancer, heart disease, depression and anxiety). These studies indicate that MBSR is an effective method of stress reduction, associated with clear benefits in terms of overall health and in enabling ill people to cope with their condition.- (Grossman, P., Niemann, L., Schmidt, S. and Walach, H., “Mindfulness- based stress reduction and health benefits a meta-analysis,” Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 2004:57(1):35-43)

2.  MBSR has been shown to have positive therapeutic effects in medical students, who commonly report high levels or stress and low levels of psychological well-being. (Shapiro, S.L., Schwartz, G.E. and Bonner, G., “Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on medical and premedical students”, Journal of Behavioural Medicine, 1998: 21(6):581-99 – Rosenzweig, S., Reibel, D.K., Greeson, J.M., Brainard, G.C. and Hojat, M., “Mindfulness-based stress reduction lowers psychological distress in medical students”, Teaching and Learning Medicine, 2003:15(2):88-92

Physical Health Improvements: Psoriasis, Immune System

1. The positive impact of meditative techniques such as MBSR is evident in their beneficial effect on stress-related medical conditions, For example, the combination of conventional treatment and MBSR produced complete clearance of skin lesions in patients with stress related skin disorder psoriasis in a much shorter time than conventional therapy alone. Similar benefits have been found in people with asthma.- (Kabat-Zinn, J., Wheeler, E., Light, T., Skillings, A., Scharf, M.J., Cropley, T.G., Hosmer, D. and Bernhard, J.D. “Influence of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction intervention on rates of skin clearing in patients with moderate to severe psoriasis undergoing phototherapy (UVB) and Photo chemotherapy (PUVA)”, Psychosomatic Medicine, 1998:60 (5):625-32)

2. Mindfulness practices have been shown to boost the immune response to a vaccination, and meditation has also been shown to reduce the body’s immune response to stress, such as that evoked by prolonged strenuous activity.-(Davidson, R.J., Kabit-Zinn, J., Schumacher, J., Rosenkranz, M., Muller, D., Santorelli, S.F., Urbanowski, F., Harrington, A., Bonus, K. and Sheridan, J.F., “Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation”, Psychomatic Medicine, 2003:65(4):564-70)

Positive Effect on Cancer Sufferers

1. Regular mindfulness practice was shown to significantly increase melatonin levels in patients with breast cancer.-(Massion, A.O, Teas, J., Hebert, J.R., Wertheimer, M.D. and Kabat-Zinn, J., “ Meditation, melatonin and breast/prostate cancer: hypothesis and preliminary data”, Medical Hypotheses, 1995;44(1):39-46)
2. In a study of the effect of MBSR in patients with breast and prostate cancer, eight weeks of MBSR practice resulted in improvements in the symptoms of stress experienced by the patients and a general improvement in quality of life.(Carlson, L.E., Speca, M., Patel, K.D., and Goodey, E., “Mindfulness-based stress reduction in relation to quality of life, mood, symptoms of stress and levels of cortical, dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS) and melatonin in breast and prostate cancer outpatients”, Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2004: 29(4):448-74)

3.The strongest evidence for the use of mindfulness in patients with cancer stems from a study that showed that MBSR led to a 65 per cent improvement in mood and a 35 per cent chance reduction in stress symptoms in a mixed population of cancer patients.-( Speca, M., Carlson, L.E., Goodey, E. and Angen, M., “ A randomized wait-list controlled clinical trial: the effect of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction program on mood and symptoms of stress in cancer outpatients”, Psychosomatic Medicine, 2000: 62(5):613-22)

Other Findings

1. In a 2005 study, patients with a mild to moderate hypertension were randomly assigned to two treatment groups, the first group received instruction in a mindfulness practice of contemplative meditation with breathing technique (CMBT) and followed an eight week practice schedule. The second group did not receive CMBT, and acted as a control. Those in the CMBT group were found to have lower blood pressure compared with the control patients, both at rest and during exercise. (Maninkonda, P., Storek, S., et al., “Influence of non-pharmacological treatment (contemplative meditation and breathing technique) on stress induced hypertension a randomised controlled study, American Journal of Hematology, 2005:18(5 pt 2):89-90A; abstract P232)

2.  A study of healthy, adolescent students showed MBSR leads to a significant reductions in blood pressure, both at rest and during the day at school and other studies are on going.- (Barnes, V.A., Davis, H.C., Murzynowski, J.B., and Treiber, F.A., “Impact of meditation on resting and ambulatory blood pressure and heart rate in youth”, Psychosomatic Medicine, 2004: 66(6):909-14)

3. In a long term study, patients with anxiety disorders showed significant improvement in both subjective and objective measure of anxiety levels following three years of mindfulness meditative practice.-(Miller, J.J., Fletcher, K. and Kabat-Zinn, J., “Three year follow up and clinical implications of mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction intervention in the treatment of anxiety disorders”, General Hospital Psychiatry, 1995: 17(3):192-200)

4. Patients with anxiety and depression undergoing a three month programme in MBCT reported significant improvements in their emotional state, and more than half continued with the mindfulness-based technique after the programme.-(Finucane, A., an Mercer, S.W., “An exploratory mixed methods study of the acceptability and effectiveness of the mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for patients with active depression and anxiety in primary care”, BMC Psychiatry, 2006:6:14)

5. MBCT was found to significantly reduce the risk of depressive relapse in patients who has three or more previous episodes of depression (which was more than three quarters of the participants) - (Teasdale, J.D., Segal, Z.V., Williams J.M., Ridgeway, V.A., Soulsby, J.M. and Lau, M.A., “Prevention of relapse/recurrence in major depresson by mindfulness-based cognitive therapy,” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 2000:68(4): 615-23.)

6. An eight week MBSR programme showed promise as a new method of quitting smoking with more than half the participants still abstinent six weeks after completing the programme.-(Davis, J.M., Fleming, M.F., Bonus, K.A. and Baker, T.B., “A pilot study on mindfulness-based stress reduction for smokers”, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2007:7:2)

7. Jon Kabat-Zinn, who developed MBSR, reports that 65 per cent of rational medical care showed marked improvements in pain after ten weeks with MBSR. The majority also showed improvement in mood disturbances and the number of troublesome symptoms.-(Kabat-Zinn, J., “An outpatient program in Behavioural Medicine for chronic pain patients based on the practice of mindfulness meditation: theoretical considerations and preliminary results”, General Hospital Psychiatry, 1982: 4(1):33-47.)

8. Exploring these benefits in greater detail found that mindfulness meditation improved patient’s body image and self esteem and their ability to carry out everyday activates, lessened psychological problems such as anxiety and depression, and reduced patients consumption of pain relieving medications. –(Kabat-Zinn J., Lipworth, L. and Burney, R., “The clinical use of mindfulness meditation for the self-regulated of chronic pain,” Journal of Behavioural Medicine, 1985: 8(2): 163:90)

9. One eight week MBSR programme produced improvements in mood and reduced levels of depression and anxiety.-( Horton-Deutsch, S., O’Haver Day, P., Haight, R. and Babin-Nelson, M., “Enchanting mental health services to bone marrow transplant recipients through a mindfulness-based therapeutic intervention”, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 2007. doi 10.1016/j.ctcp.2006.11.0003)

Centre Events Previous Centre Events External Events Carol's Talks