Listed in Issue 233


REINER and COLLEAGUES,  (1)Department of Psychology, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel conduct a literature review to investigate the specific effect of  Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) upon pain intensity.


Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) emphasizing a non-judgmental attitude toward present moment experience are widely used for chronic pain patients. Although changing or controlling pain is not an explicit aim of MBIs, recent experimental studies suggest that mindfulness practice may lead to changes in pain tolerance and pain intensity ratings.


A literature search was conducted using the databases PUBMED and PsycINFO for relevant articles published from 1960 to December 2010. We additionally conducted a manual search of references from the retrieved articles. Only studies providing detailed results on change in pain intensity ratings were included.


Sixteen studies were included in this review (eight uncontrolled and eight controlled trials). In most studies (10 of 16), there was significantly decreased pain intensity in the MBI group. Findings were more consistently positive for samples limited to clinical pain (9 of 11). In addition, most controlled trials (6 of 8) reveal higher reductions in pain intensity for MBIs compared with control groups. Results from follow-up assessments reveal that reductions in pain intensity were generally well maintained.


Findings suggest that MBIs decrease the intensity of pain for chronic pain patients. We discuss implications for understanding mechanisms of change in MBIs.


Reiner K(1), Tibi L, Lipsitz JD. Do mindfulness-based interventions reduce pain intensity? A critical review of the literature. Pain Med. 14(2):230-42. doi: 10.1111/pme.12006. Feb 2013. Epub Dec 13 2012.  

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