The role of mindfulness in a contextual cognitive-behavioral analysis of chronic pain-related suffering and disability

Pain. 2007 Sep;131(1-2):63-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2006.12.013. Epub 2007 Jan 25.


An increasing number of studies consider the specific processes by which distressing sensations, thoughts, and emotional experiences exert their influence on the daily functioning of those who suffer with chronic pain. Clinical methods of mindfulness and the processes that underlie them appear to have clear implications in this area, but have not been systematically investigated to this point in time. The purpose of the present study was to examine mindfulness in relation to the pain, emotional, physical, and social functioning of individuals with chronic pain. The present study included 105 consecutive patients attending a clinical assessment for treatment of chronic pain. Each completed a standardized battery of questionnaires, including a measure of mindfulness, the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale [Brown KW, Ryan RM. The benefits of being present: mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. J Pers Soc Psychol 2003;84:822-48]. Correlation analyses indicated that mindfulness was unrelated to age, gender, education, or chronicity of pain, but was significantly related to multiple measures of patient functioning. In multiple regression analyses, after controlling for patient background variables, pain intensity, and pain-related acceptance, mindfulness accounted for significant variance in measures of depression, pain-related anxiety; physical, psychosocial, and "other" disability. In each instance greater mindfulness was associated with better functioning. The combined increments of variance explained from acceptance of pain and mindfulness were at least moderate and, in some cases, appeared potentially meaningful. The behavioral processes of mindfulness and their accessibility to scientific study are considered.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Attention*
  • Awareness*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Sick Role
  • Sickness Impact Profile
  • Stress, Physiological / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires