In a study of 63 adult rheumatoid arthritis patients who were mostly female (averaging 54 years old, white, married, college educated, middle class), 31 were randomly assigned to MBSR therapy. The study participants started with an 8-week training course followed by a 4-month maintenance program. The other 32 people were assigned to a waiting list and agreed to be assessed by researchers in exchange for free MBSR training at the end of the study. Both groups underwent psychological and rheumatological examination at baseline, 2 months, and 6 months.
According to results in the October 2007 issue of Arthritis Care & Research, at 2 months both groups showed improvement in depressive, psychological, and emotional symptoms. By 6 months, the control group had not maintained the improvement but the MBSR group had maintained improvement or improved even further. At the end of the study, the MBSR group had a 35 percent reduction in psychological distress but the program had no impact on rheumatoid arthritis disease activity. MBSR may effectively complement usual medical management of rheumatoid arthritis.
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