Effects of Mindfulness-based interventions on physical symptoms in people with multiple sclerosis – a systematic review and meta-analysis

Robert Simpson, Sharon Simpson, Nitish Ramparsad, Maggie Lawrence, Jo Booth, Stewart W. Mercer

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Physical wellbeing is commonly impaired in people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS). This study aims to update our previous systematic review (2014) and conduct a meta-analysis on the efficacy of Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) for improving physical symptoms in PwMS.

In November 2017 we carried out systematic searches for eligible randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in seven major databases, updating our search in July 2018. We used medical subject headings and key words. Two independent reviewers used pre-defined criteria to screen, data extract, quality appraise, and analyse studies. The Cochrane Collaboration risk of bias tool was used to determine study quality. Physical wellbeing was the main outcome of interest. We used the random effects model for meta-analysis, reporting effect sizes as Standardised Mean Difference (SMD). This study is registered with PROSPERO: CRD42018093171.

We identified 10 RCTs as eligible for inclusion in the systematic review (including 678 PwMS), whilst seven RCTs (555 PwMS) had data that could be used in our meta-analyses. In general, comorbidity, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic status were poorly reported. MBIs included manualised and tailored interventions, treatment duration 6-9 weeks, delivered face-to-face and online in groups and also individually. For fatigue, against any comparator SMD was 0.24 (0.08 – 0.41), I2=0%; against active comparators only, SMD was 0.10 (-0.14 – 0.34), I2=0%. For pain SMD was 0.16 (-0.46 – 0.79), I2=77%. Three adverse events occurred across all studies.

MBIs appear to be an effective treatment for fatigue in PwMS. The optimal MBI in this context remains unclear. Further research into MBI optimisation, cost- and comparative-effectiveness is required.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101493
Number of pages18
JournalMultiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders
Early online date9 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • mindfulness
  • multiple sclerosis
  • systematic review
  • meta-analysis


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