Life of Chronically Ill
YORK (Reuters Health) - A type of meditation called mindfulness-based
stress reduction may improve symptoms and quality of life, as
well as reduce stress, in patients with a wide variety of chronic
illnesses, the results of a new study indicate.
A tactic called
mindfulness-based stress reduction teaches patients to ``try to
stay as present as possible with their experience,'' according
to the study's lead author, Dr. Diane K. Reibel, of the Center
for Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia,
in an interview with Reuters Health that this meditation technique
encourages patients to ``acknowledge that they have fears and
worries,'' but to keep them in balance with the positive things
in their lives.
said in referring to the process, ``it's simple, but it's not
appears to be beneficial to people with a variety of chronic illnesses,
Reibel and her colleagues report in a recent issue of the journal
General Hospital Psychiatry.
In a study
of 136 people with conditions ranging from cancer to sleep disorders,
an 8-week course in stress reduction led to overall improvements
in health-related quality of life--such as boosts in ``vitality''
and lowered pain levels. Based on several objective tests, some
physical symptoms as well as health-related psychological distress
were reduced by the end of the training.
And the impact
of the training program seems to be long-lasting, Reibel and her
colleagues report. The beneficial effects on symptoms, quality
of life and psychological distress were maintained in patients
who were interviewed one year after the meditation training.
promotion effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction appear
to complement conventional biomedical treatment in a comprehensive,
patient-centered approach to healing and alleviation of human
suffering,'' the authors conclude.
Reuters Health that one of the drawbacks of the study was that
it did not compare participants with a ``control'' group of patients
who did not receive the training. She said she and her colleagues
would also like to study the technique in specific groups of patients,
such as people with cancer or the chronic-pain condition fibromyalgia,
to see whether its effects vary.
she hoped future research would be able to identify specific biological
factors, such as changes in stress-related hormones, that account
for the improvements of mindfulness-based stress reduction.
financial services Advanta Corporation provided some of the funding
for the study.
General Hospital Psychiatry 2001;23:183-192.
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