Context: Research on mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) has focused on measuring symptom reduction in middle-class and working-class populations. The present study examined inner-city patients' healthcare utilization before and after an MBSR intervention.
Objective: To determine whether completion of an MBSR program resulted in changes in healthcare utilization in an inner-city population.
Design: Medical chart review compared the number and diagnoses of health center visits during the year before patients entered the MBSR program with the year following completion of the program.
Setting: The Community Health Center in Meriden, Conn.
Patients: The chart review process examined healthcare utilization patterns for 73 patients: 54 who completed the MBSR program in Spanish and 19 who completed the program in English. The focus of this study is a subgroup of 47 patients for whom a complete year of data were available before and after the intervention.
Intervention: An 8-week course in MBSR.
Main outcome measures: The number and diagnoses of patients' health center visits before and after completion of the MBSR program.
Results: A significant decrease in the number of chronic care visits was found among the 47 patients for whom complete data were available. The 36 patients who completed the Spanish courses demonstrated a significant decrease in total medical visits and chronic care visits.
Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that MBSR may help contain healthcare costs by decreasing the number of visits made by inner-city patients to their primary care providers after completing the MBSR program.