Review article| Volume 38, 101493, February 2020

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

Published:November 09, 2019DOI:


      • Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are complex interventions.
      • The optimal MBI for people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS) is not known.
      • MBIs appear to be moderately effective in improving fatigue in PwMS.
      • Evidence for MBIs for relieving pain in PwMS is inconsistent.



      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.


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