Association Between Pain and Mindfulness in Multiple Sclerosis: A Cross-sectional Survey

Int J MS Care. Jan-Feb 2018;20(1):28-34. doi: 10.7224/1537-2073.2016-076.


Background: Chronic pain is a common symptom in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and often requires a multimodal approach to care. The practice of mindfulness has been shown to decrease the experience of pain in other conditions, yet little is known about the relationship between mindfulness and pain in people with MS. The objective of this study was to evaluate the association between pain interference and trait mindfulness in people with MS.

Methods: In this cross-sectional survey, 132 people with any type of MS completed the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System Pain Interference scale and the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire. Linear regression was used to test the association between pain and mindfulness while adjusting for demographic and MS-related characteristics.

Results: The relationship between pain and mindfulness was clinically meaningful and highly significant (t = -5.52, P < .0001). For every 18-point increase in mindfulness scores, pain interference scores are expected to decrease by 3.96 (95% CI, -2.52 to -5.40) points (β = -0.22, P < .0001). The adjusted model, including age, type of MS, the interaction between mindfulness and age, and the interaction between mindfulness and MS type, explains 26% of the variability in pain interference scores (R2 = 0.26).

Conclusions: These results suggest a clinically significant association between mindfulness and pain interference in MS and support further exploration of mindfulness-based interventions in the management of MS-related pain.