Mindfulness-based interventions can effectively improve the quality of life, especially the mental-health-related quality of life, of people living with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a new study published in the Journal of Neurology

MS negatively affects people’s quality of life. To explore the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions in improving patients’ quality of life, researchers led by Mark Bayley, MD, FRCPC, from the University of Toronto in Canada, conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature. 

The team analyzed 14 randomized clinical trials that included a total of 937 participants, most of whom could still walk. There were 128 patients with progressive MS and 699 patients with relapsing MS.


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The meta-analysis showed that the overall effect size for any measure of quality of life was 0.4, corresponding to a moderate treatment effect of mindfulness-based interventions in improving quality of life among people with MS. 

For MS-specific quality-of-life measures, which were used in 8 out of the 14 studies, the overall size effect was 0.39.

The effect of mindfulness-based interventions was largest on subscale measures of mental quality of life. Adverse events were rarely reported.

According to the authors of the study, more research is now needed to characterize optimal formatting, mechanisms of action, and effects of mindfulness-based interventions in patients with more diverse social, educational, and clinical backgrounds.

MS is a chronic inflammatory neurodegenerative disease characterized by an immune attack against the myelin sheath surrounding the nerve cells. The symptoms of MS include stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue, pain, sleep impairment, and cognitive and physical difficulties.  

Mindfulness-based interventions teach core meditation techniques, which aim to increase a person’s attention, self-awareness, and emotional regulation skills. Research has shown that mindfulness-based interventions can effectively treat stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain in non-MS populations.

Reference

Simpson R, Posa S, Langer L, et al. A systematic review and meta-analysis exploring the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions on quality of life in people with multiple sclerosis. J Neurol. Published November 9, 2022. doi:10.1007/s00415-022-11451-x