Economic Evaluations of Mindfulness-Based Interventions: a Systematic Review

Mindfulness (N Y). 2022;13(10):2359-2378. doi: 10.1007/s12671-022-01960-1. Epub 2022 Aug 30.


Objectives: This study includes a systematic review of cost-effectiveness analyses (CEAs) and cost-benefit analyses (CBAs) of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs).

Methods: A literature search was conducted using PubMed, Web of Science, JSTOR, and CINAHL for studies published between January 1985 and September 2021, including an original cost-related evaluation of an MBI. A qualitative assessment of bias was performed using the Drummond checklist.

Results: Twenty-eight mindfulness-based intervention studies (18 CEAs and 10 CBAs) were included in this review. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) was less costly and more effective when compared with the usual care of cognitive behavioral therapy among patients with chronic lower back pain, fibromyalgia, and breast cancer. MBSR among patients with various physical/mental conditions was associated with reductions in healthcare costs. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) was also less costly and more effective than the comparison group among patients with depression, medically unexplained symptoms, and multiple sclerosis. MBCT's cost-effectiveness advantage was also identified among breast cancer patients with persistent pain, non-depressed adults with a history of major depressive disorder episodes, adults diagnosed with ADHD, and all cancer patients. From a societal perspective, the cost-saving property of mindfulness training was evident when used as the treatment of aggressive behaviors among persons with intellectual/developmental disabilities in mental health facilities.

Conclusions: Based on this review, more standardized MBI protocols such as MBSR and MBCT compare favorably with usual care in terms of health outcomes and cost-effectiveness. Other MBIs may result in cost savings from both healthcare and societal perspectives among high-risk patient populations.

Keywords: Complementary and alternative medicine; Cost-effectiveness analysis; Meditation; Mindfulness.

Publication types

  • Review