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Immediate effects of a brief mindfulness-based body scan on patients with chronic pain

Abstract

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) has benefits for those with chronic pain. MBSR typically entails an intensive 8-week intervention. The effects of very brief mindfulness interventions are unknown. Among those with chronic pain, the immediate effects of a 10 min mindfulness-based body scan were compared with a control intervention. Fifty-five adult outpatients were randomly assigned to either: (1) mindfulness-based body scan (n = 27) or (2) a reading about natural history (control group, n = 28), provided via a 10 min audio-recording. Interventions were delivered twice across 24 h; once in the clinic and once in participants’ ‘normal’ environment. Immediately before and after listening to the recording, participants rated pain severity, pain related distress, perceived ability for daily activities, perceived likelihood of pain interfering with social relations, and mindfulness. In the clinic, there was a significant reduction in ratings for pain related distress and for pain interfering with social relations for the body scan group compared with the control group (p = 0.005; p = 0.036, respectively). In the normal environment none of the ratings were significantly different between the groups. These data suggest that, in a clinic setting, a brief body scan has immediate benefits for those experiencing chronic pain. These benefits need to be confirmed in the field.

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Correspondence to Michael Ussher.

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Ussher, M., Spatz, A., Copland, C. et al. Immediate effects of a brief mindfulness-based body scan on patients with chronic pain. J Behav Med 37, 127–134 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10865-012-9466-5

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Keywords

  • Chronic pain
  • Mindfulness
  • Body scan
  • Intervention
  • Distress