A 13-Weeks Mindfulness Based Pain Management Program Improves Psychological Distress in Patients with Chronic Pain Compared with Waiting List Controls

Tonny Elmose Andersen1, *, Henrik Bjarke Vægter2
1 Department of Psychology, University of Southern, Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense M, Denmark
2 Clinical Researcher hos Pain Research Group, Pain Center South, University Hospital Odense, Denmark

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© Andersen and Vægter; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access articles licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided that the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Psychology, University of Southern, Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense M, Denmark; Tel: +45 20612003; E-mails:,



Eradication of pain is seldom an option in chronic pain management. Hence, mindfulness meditation has become popular in pain management.


This pilot study compared the effect of a 13-weeks cognitive behavioural therapy program with integrated mindfulness meditation (CBTm) in patients with chronic non-malignant pain with a control condition. It was hypothesised that the CBTm program would reduce pain intensity and psychological distress compared to the control condition and that level of mindfulness and acceptance both would be associated with the reduction in pain intensity and psychological distress.


A case-control design was used and data were collected from a convenience sample of 70 patients with chronic non-malignant pain. Fifty patients were consecutively recruited to the CBTm intervention and 20 patients matched waiting list controls. Assessments of clinical pain and psychological distress were performed in both groups at baseline and after 13 weeks.


The CBTm program reduced depression, anxiety and pain-catastrophizing compared with the control group. Increased level of mindfulness and acceptance were associated with change in psychological distress with the exception of depression, which was only associated with change in level of mindfulness. Surprisingly, changes in level of mindfulness did not correlate with changes in acceptance.


The results indicate that different mechanisms are targeted with cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness. The finding that changes in level of mindfulness did not correlate with changes in acceptance may indicate that acceptance is not a strict prerequisite for coping with pain related distress.

Keywords: Chronic Pain, Depression, Mindfulness, Pain Catastrophizing, Psychological Distress.