A Mixed-Methods Pilot Study of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for HIV-Associated Chronic Pain

Behav Med. 2017 Apr-Jun;43(2):108-119. doi: 10.1080/08964289.2015.1107525. Epub 2015 Dec 11.


Treatment guidelines for chronic pain recommend nonpharmacologic modalities as part of a comprehensive management plan. Chronic pain is common among people living with HIV/AIDS, but there is little data to guide the choice of nonpharmacologic therapies in this complex population. We performed a mixed-methods feasibility study of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) versus health education control with 32 inner city, HIV-infected participants. Outcome measures included: the Brief Pain Inventory, Perceived Stress Scale, HIV Symptoms Index, autonomic function testing, and audiotaped focus groups. Post-intervention, participants reported modest improvements in pain measures and perceived stress, but no effect of group assignment was observed. At 3-month follow-up, 79% of MBSR participants were still practicing, and pain intensity was improved, whereas in the control group pain intensity had worsened. Qualitative analysis revealed a strong sense of community in both groups, but only MBSR was perceived as useful for relaxation and pain relief.

Keywords: HIV; Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR); chronic pain; mixed methods.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Pain / etiology
  • Chronic Pain / psychology
  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mindfulness / methods*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Self Care*
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*