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Mindfulness Training for Chronic Non-malignant Pain Management: A Review of the Clinical Effectiveness, Cost-effectiveness and Guidelines

Last updated: June 25, 2019
Project Number: RC1138-000
Product Line: Rapid Response
Research Type: Devices and Systems
Report Type: Summary with Critical Appraisal
Result type: Report

Question

  1. What is the clinical effectiveness of mindfulness training for chronic non-malignant pain in adults?
  2. What is the cost-effectiveness of mindfulness training for chronic non-malignant pain in adults?
  3. What are the evidence-based guidelines regarding the use of mindfulness training for chronic non-malignant pain in adults?

Key Message

Two systematic reviews and three randomized controlled trials (from four publications) were identified that addressed the clinical effectiveness of mindfulness training for chronic non-malignant pain in adults, and the results were inconclusive. One relevant systematic review did not identify any relevant studies. The results from the remaining clinical studies suggested that mindfulness training may be more clinically effective than pharmacotherapy or not significantly different from pharmacotherapy for chronic non-malignant pain, depending on the outcome or population examined. No studies found mindfulness training to be significantly less effective than pharmacotherapy. More research is warranted for definitive conclusions. No evidence regarding the cost-effectiveness of mindfulness training for chronic non-malignant pain in adults were identified. Three evidence-based guidelines, including one Canadian guideline, satisfied the inclusion criteria for this report. All guidelines recommend the use of mindfulness training for patients with chronic pain (e.g., chronic non-malignant pain, low back pain, and multi-symptom illness). Two of the included guidelines were informed from evidence of uncertain quality, suggesting caution should be exercised in their interpretation.