The Emerging Role of Mindfulness Meditation as Effective Self-Management Strategy, Part 2: Clinical Implications for Chronic Pain, Substance Misuse, and Insomnia

Mil Med. 2016 Sep;181(9):969-75. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-14-00678.


Mindfulness-based interventions have been increasingly utilized in the management of chronic pain since 1982. This second review of a two-part series evaluates the efficacy, mechanism, and safety of mindfulness meditation for chronic pain, substance use disorder, tobacco use disorder, and insomnia frequently co-occurring after return from deployment. Standard databases were searched until August 4, 2015. 72 relevant systematic reviews and clinical trials met the inclusion criteria. The Strength of Recommendation Taxonomy was used to assess the quality of individual studies and to rate the strength of recommendation (SOR) for each clinical condition. Mindfulness-based interventions effectively and durably reduce pain intensity, improve functional status, pain-related psychological consequences, quality of life (SOR B). They can also be utilized as an adjunctive intervention aimed at improving health-related quality of life in individuals with substance use disorders interested in self-management strategies (SOR B). Mindfulness training for smokers used adjunctively with pharmacotherapy shows efficacy in maintaining abstinence comparable to that of the current standard of care (SOR B). Future large, well-designed randomized clinical trials using active controls in service members and veterans with co-occurring pain and psychological health conditions are necessary to provide more precise clinical guidance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain / psychology
  • Chronic Pain / therapy
  • Humans
  • Meditation / methods
  • Meditation / psychology*
  • Mindfulness / methods*
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Self-Management*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / psychology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / therapy
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy