Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a treatment program for relieving stress and coping with chronic illnesses. In recent three decades, studies have shown that MBSR has a positive effect on physical and psychological dimensions of chronic illnesses. Chemically pulmonary injured veterans have chronic pulmonary and psychological problems due to mustard gas exposure and complications of Iran-Iraq war. These stresses have negative effects on their general health and immune system. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study conducted on psychoneuroimmunology and MBSR in these patients. Forty male pulmonary injured veterans were randomly divided in two groups with 20 participants (MBSR and wait-list control). Then MBSR group received 8 weekly sessions of intervention. We tested mental health based on general health questionnaire (GHQ)-28 questionnaire, health-related quality of life (based on St. George respiratory questionnaire (SGRQ) ) and immunity in MBSR groups; before and after intervention "mixed factorial analyses of variance" test was used for analyzing data fpr each dependent variable and appropriate t-tests were done in The necessary condition. Results showed that mental health and health- related quality of life, in MBSR group compared to wait-list control improved [F (1,38)=26.46, p<0.001; F (1,38)=49.52, p<0.001 respectively] significantly. Moreover, a significant increase was reported in the lymphocyte proliferation with phytohemagglutinin (PHA) [F (1,38)=16.24, p<0.001], and peripheral blood IL-17 [F (1,38)=56.71, p<0.001] However, lymphocyte (CD4+, CD8+, and NK-cell) percentages were not affected significantly [F (1,38)=2.21, p=0.14] ,[F (1,38)=0.90, p=0.78] and [F (1,38)=1.79, p=0.18], respectively. This study suggests that MBSR may be a new treatment approach for improving immunity and overall health in chemically pulmonary injured veterans.
Keywords: CD4+; CD8+; IL-17; Lymphocyte proliferation; Mental health; Mindfulness; NK-cell; Quality of life; Veterans.