Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 163-190

First online:

The clinical use of mindfulness meditation for the self-regulation of chronic pain

  • Jon Kabat-ZinnAffiliated withStress Reduction and Relaxation Program, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical Center
  • , Leslie LipworthAffiliated withDepartment of Family and Community Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical Center
  • , Robert BurneyAffiliated withPain Control Center, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Massachusetts Medical Center

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Ninety chronic pain patients were trained in mindfulness meditation in a 10-week Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program. Statistically significant reductions were observed in measures of present-moment pain, negative body image, inhibition of activity by pain, symptoms, mood disturbance, and psychological symptomatology, including anxiety and depression. Pain-related drug utilization decreased and activity levels and feelings of self-esteem increased. Improvement appeared to be independent of gender, source of referral, and type of pain. A comparison group of pain patients did not show significant improvement on these measures after traditional treatment protocols. At follow-up, the improvements observed during the meditation training were maintained up to 15 months post-meditation training for all measures except present-moment pain. The majority of subjects reported continued high compliance with the meditation practice as part of their daily lives. The relationship of mindfulness meditation to other psychological methods for chronic pain control is discussed.

Key words

meditation pain self-regulation coping stress