Buddhism, Psychiatry and Chronic Disease: The Role of Mindfulness in Modern Medicine

by Dr Samantha Batt – Rawden


The majority of these studies show a significant stress reduction and increases in psychological wellbeing following Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. However there is very little definitive evidence for such a benefit. Although many studies do employ the use of a control group often controls were recruited from the waiting list to receive MBSR. This may bias the results of such studies as these subjects; clearly those interested in MBSR are more likely to believe it has a clinical benefit. Aside from the clear methodological problems associated with a lack of a control group, much of the available literature suffers from further flaws which only serve to limit the generalisability and validity of the reported results. These include: use of unvalidated tools to measure outcomes and failure to control for confounding variables such as concurrent treatment and arbitrary determination of the primary outcome measure as evidence for clinical response.

This literature review highlights the need for large trials and methodologically sound research. Yet there is evidence to suggest the potential promise of mindfulness as an effective intervention for enhancing the psychological and spiritual wellbeing of patients with wide range of medical disorders and psychiatric diagnoses, and for health care professionals. Whilst the biological basis of both medical and psychiatric disease is advancing exponentially, as we understand more about the human brain questions are raised as to the basis of the mind, and the interface between psychiatry, psychology, philosophy and spirituality becomes ever more interesting. This, and its concurrent growing popularity, might suggest there is a role, alongside more traditional treatments, for MBSR in modern medicine.


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