Mindful meditation interventions have been applied for helping relieve chronic stress, depression, and pain. Researchers at Arizona State University studied the effects of cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness interventions on pain and the quality of life among patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) (Zautra et al., 2008).
A total of 144 RA patients were involved in the study and divided into different groups (Zautra et al., 2008). One group used cognitive behavioral therapy for pain (P), one group had mindfulness meditation and emotion regulation therapy (M). In the study, an education-only group (E) was used as the control.
The study found that those patients who received cognitive behavioral therapy for pain had the most significant improvement in pain control and decrease in the levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a proinflammatory cytokine (Zautra et al., 2008). Both P and M groups had better results in coping efficacy than the control group did.
In addition, the RA patients with recurrent depression had the most significant improvement from the meditation and emotion regulation therapy (Zautra et al., 2008). Further study with more people would be necessary to confirm the effects and elucidate the mechanisms of meditation.
Zautra, A. J., Davis, M. C., et al. (2008) Comparison of cognitive behavioral and mindfulness meditation interventions on adaptation to rheumatoid arthritis for patients with and without history of recurrent depression. J Consult Clin Psychol 76, 408-421.