Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Adolescents with Functional Somatic Syndromes: A Pilot Cohort Study

J Pediatr. 2017 Apr;183:184-190. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.12.053. Epub 2017 Jan 12.


Objective: To assess the feasibility of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program for adolescents with widespread chronic pain and other functional somatic symptoms and to make preliminary assessments of its clinical utility.

Study design: Three cohorts of subjects completed an 8-week MBSR program. Child- and parent-completed measures were collected at baseline and 8 and 12 weeks later. Measures included the Functional Disability Inventory (FDI), the Fibromyalgia/Symptom Impact Questionnaire-Revised (FIQR/SIQR), the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory, the Multidimensional Anxiety Scale (MASC2), and the Perceived Stress Scale. Subjects and parents were interviewed following the program to assess feasibility.

Results: Fifteen of 18 subjects (83%) completed the 8-week program. No adverse events occurred. Compared with baseline scores, significant changes were found in mean scores on the FDI (33% improvement, P = .026), FIQR/SIQR (26% improvement, P = .03), and MASC2 (child: 12% improvement, P = .02; parent report: 17% improvement, P = .03) at 8 weeks. MASC2 scores (child and parent) and Perceived Stress Scale scores were significantly improved at 12 weeks. More time spent doing home practice was associated with better outcomes in the FDI and FIQR/SIQR (44% and 26% improvement, respectively). Qualitative interviews indicated that subjects and parents reported social support as a benefit of the MBSR class, as well as a positive impact of MBSR on activities of daily living, and on pain and anxiety.

Conclusions: MBSR is a feasible and acceptable intervention in adolescents with functional somatic syndromes and has preliminary evidence for improving functional disability, symptom impact, and anxiety, with consistency between parent and child measures.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT02190474.

Keywords: chronic pain; fibromyalgia; irritable bowel syndrome; quality of life.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Chronic Disease / psychology
  • Chronic Disease / therapy*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / therapy
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / diagnosis
  • Fibromyalgia / therapy
  • Headache / diagnosis
  • Headache / therapy
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / therapy
  • Male
  • Mindfulness / methods*
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / diagnosis
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / therapy
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Adjustment
  • Risk Assessment
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02190474