Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Program as Add-On Therapy Lessens FM Symptoms, Study Finds

Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Program as Add-On Therapy Lessens FM Symptoms, Study Finds
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A mindfulness program to reduce stress, used as an add-on to standard treatment, lessens fibromyalgia (FM) symptoms, improves quality of life, and also is more cost effective than other traditional strategies, a new study reports.

The study, “Cost–Utility of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Fibromyalgia versus a Multicomponent Intervention and Usual Care: A 12-Month Randomized Controlled Trial (EUDAIMON Study),” was published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.

Treating FM is costly and few therapies have demonstrated effectiveness at improving symptoms.

The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a therapy program based on the concept of paying attention to the present moment. The program, developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, consists of eight weekly two-hour group sessions, and one silent retreat of half-day duration (optional) for the study participants.

In the Phase 3 EUDAIMON trial (NCT02561416), a group of researchers in Spain investigated the clinical benefits of MBSR vs the psycho-educational program FibroQoL as add-on therapies to standard treatments, and to standard therapy alone.

The FibroQoL program consists of two-hour sessions that include four sessions of psycho-education regarding information about disease, diagnosis, and management of symptoms, and four additional sessions  of relaxation training and self-hypnosis. The aim is to achieve a completely relaxed status and feel active control of the body and pain.

While initial data supported the effects of MBSR in lessening patients’ symptoms and quality of life, they now have investigated the therapy’s economic costs.

They analyzed 225 adult FM patients from the Rheumatology Service at Sant Joan de Déu Hospital in Spain.

Patients were assigned to one of three treatments: MBSR, or FibroQoL added to standard therapies, or to standard therapy alone. The team was able to collect complete economic data on 204 patients.

Besides the MBSR sessions, patients in this group were given a book and audiotapes called “Con rumbo propio” (English translation: “With its own course) so they could practice mindfulness at home. Researchers believe this cognitive training might help patients relate to their physical pain and psychological states that may benefit their quality of life.

During the study, patients in the three groups continued their usual medications and, in some cases, regular physical exercise.

Twelve months after enrolment, researchers evaluated the costs and impact of each one of the therapy regimens. They found that the MBSR had the lowest total health care costs (€1,560, or $1,738), compared to FibroQoL (€2,020, or $2,249) and standard therapy alone (€2,530, or $2,817).

From a healthcare system perspective, the economic advantage of MBSR training ranged from €420 to €490 ($467 to $545) saved per patient, compared to standard treatment.

Moreover, they saw that both MBSR and FibroQoL had a significant incremental effect on quality of life.

Overall, “these results support the cost-utility of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for fibromyalgia, which is in line with previous findings regarding other non-pharmacological interventions such as forms of CBT [cognitive-behavioral therapy] and ACT [acceptance and commitment Therapy],” they wrote.

However, these results need further confirmation with larger samples of FM patients, the study authors concluded.

Patricia holds a Ph.D. in Cell Biology from University Nova de Lisboa, and has served as an author on several research projects and fellowships, as well as major grant applications for European Agencies. She has also served as a PhD student research assistant at the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Columbia University, New York.
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Patricia holds a Ph.D. in Cell Biology from University Nova de Lisboa, and has served as an author on several research projects and fellowships, as well as major grant applications for European Agencies. She has also served as a PhD student research assistant at the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Columbia University, New York.
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