Mindfulness-based stress reduction for family caregivers: a randomized controlled trial

Gerontologist. 2013 Aug;53(4):676-86. doi: 10.1093/geront/gns126. Epub 2012 Oct 15.


Purpose: Caring for a family member with dementia is associated with chronic stress, which can have significant deleterious effects on caregivers. The purpose of the Balance Study was to compare a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) intervention to a community caregiver education and support (CCES) intervention for family caregivers of people with dementia.

Design and methods: We randomly assigned 78 family caregivers to an MBSR or a CCES intervention, matched for time and attention. Study participants attended 8 weekly intervention sessions and participated in home-based practice. Surveys were completed at baseline, postintervention, and at 6 months. Participants were 32- to 82-year-old predominately non-Hispanic White women caring for a parent with dementia.

Results: MBSR was more effective at improving overall mental health, reducing stress, and decreasing depression than CCES. Both interventions improved caregiver mental health and were similarly effective at improving anxiety, social support, and burden.

Implications: MBSR could reduce stress and improve mental health in caregivers of family members with dementia residing in the community.

Keywords: Chronic stress; Complemen tary therapies; Dementia; Mind-body therapies.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Caregivers / education*
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Dementia / psychology
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Mind-Body Therapies*
  • Quality of Life
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome