Question: This review compares mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) to cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) in its ability to improve physical functioning and reduce pain intensity and distress in patients with chronic pain (CP), when evaluated against control conditions.
Study selection and analysis: Ovid MEDLINE, EmbaseClassic+Embase, PsycINFO and the Cochrane Library were searched to identify randomised controlled trials. The primary outcome measure was physical functioning. Secondary outcomes were pain intensity and depression symptoms. We used random and fixed effects (RE and FE) network meta-analyses (NMA) to compare MBSR, CBT and control interventions on the standardised mean difference scale.
Findings: Twenty-one studies were included: 13 CBT vs control (n=1095), 7 MBSR vs control (n=545) and 1 MBSR vs CBT vs control (n=341). Of the 21 articles, 12 were determined to be of fair or good quality. Findings from RE NMA for change in physical functioning, pain intensity and depression revealed clinically important advantages relative to control for MBSR and CBT, but no evidence of an important difference between MBSR and CBT was found.
Conclusions: This review suggests that MBSR offers another potentially helpful intervention for CP management. Additional research using consistent measures is required to guide decisions about providing CBT or MBSR.
Keywords: chronic pain; meta-analysis; cognitive-behavioral therapy; mindfulness-based stress reduction; randomized controlled trials.
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