Patients with diabetes or coronary heart disease benefit from mindfulness-based meditation

An exciting study examining whether mindfulness-based meditation could help to improve the psychological wellbeing of patients with diabetes and coronary heart disease has released its early findings.

This study evaluated the acceptability and feasibility of using mindfulness-based meditation to bring about change in worry, rumination and intrusive thoughts, and examined patient’s opinions about meditation. It has been funded by Greater Manchester CLAHRC Flexibility and Sustainability Funding stream, and is led by Dr Peter Coventry, co-theme lead for the CLAHRC Practitioner programme.

Dr Coventry said: “Mindfulness is a mind-body approach to well-being that can help you change the way you think about experiences and potentially reduce stress and anxiety. It is increasing in popularity and research is beginning to show the positive effects it can have on mood and quality of life.”

For this study volunteers with heart disease and/or diabetes were recruited from self-help groups across Greater Manchester. Study participants were offered meditation sessions in two back-to-back programmes that lasted for six weeks. The course consisted of weekly group sessions and home practice, with the use of an accompanying manual and CD.

The study’s initial findings suggest there was a significant reduction in worry and thought intrusion following the meditation sessions. Participants also reported a range of psychological and physical benefits of meditation training and felt more able to manage their long term conditions. Those who received the therapy welcomed meditation as an alternative to other therapies they had tried, such as exercise.

Dr Coventry added: “These early results point towards mindfulness-meditation being a well-tolerated and effective intervention to improve the way people with long-term conditions self-manage their health problems.”

Analysis on the data is continuing and preliminary findings were presented at the Primary Care Mental Health Conference at the University of Bristol in March 2012. A complete report of the study findings are being prepared for publication.