Impact of mindfulness-based stress reduction for people with multiple sclerosis at 8 weeks and 12 months: A randomized clinical trial

Mult Scler. 2019 Jul;25(8):1178-1188. doi: 10.1177/1352458518786650. Epub 2018 Jul 9.


Background: Mindfulness training is often used as a therapeutic intervention to manage stress and enhance emotional well-being, yet trials for multiple sclerosis (MS) are limited and few have used an active control.

Objective: Assess the feasibility of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) for people with MS and evaluate the efficacy of MBSR compared to an education control.

Methods: We conducted a single-blind, randomized trial of MBSR versus education control among 62 adults with MS. Primary outcomes were measures of feasibility. Secondary outcomes included perceived stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue, pain, resilience, and the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test, assessed at baseline, 8 weeks, and 12 months. Mean scores for secondary outcome measures were compared between groups at each time point and within groups across time by analyses of covariance or paired t-tests, respectively.

Results: Successful recruitment and retention demonstrated feasibility. Improvements in several secondary outcomes were observed among both MBSR and control groups. However, differences between the groups were not statistically significant at either 8 weeks or 12 months.

Conclusion: Emotional well-being improved with both MBSR and education. Spontaneous improvement cannot be ruled out as an explanation for findings and additional studies that evaluate the impact of mindfulness training to improve emotional health are warranted.

Keywords: Multiple sclerosis; anxiety; mindfulness; psychological stress; quality of life; resilience.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mindfulness / methods*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / psychology*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Psychotherapy, Group
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*