Mindfulness-based stress reduction and healthcare utilization in the inner city: preliminary findings

Altern Ther Health Med. Jan-Feb 2002;8(1):60-2, 64-6.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breathing Exercises
  • Community Health Centers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Connecticut
  • Female
  • Health Education / organization & administration
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration*
  • Hispanic Americans / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Meditation
  • Middle Aged
  • Office Visits / statistics & numerical data*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stress, Psychological / ethnology
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Time Factors
  • Urban Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Yoga