Optimising mindfulness-based stress reduction for people with multiple sclerosis

Robert Simpson, Sharon Byrne, Karen Wood, Frances S. Mair, Stewart W. Mercer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To gather views from patients with multiple sclerosis after completing a standard eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction course and optimise and test a modified version as required. Methods: Two successive groups of 25 multiple sclerosis patients received mindfulness-based stress reduction in a wait-list randomised controlled trial. Seventeen participants and two mindfulness-based stress reduction instructors were individually interviewed after the first (standard) course and 16 participants and the same two instructors were interviewed following the second (optimised) course. Interviews were analysed using a thematic approach. Results: Mindfulness-based stress reduction was well received in both groups, with participants describing a beneficial shift in awareness. An initial (at times unpleasant) increase in awareness of disability was generally followed by greater acceptance and self-compassion. Other benefits reported included improved relationships, walking and sleep, with less stress and pain. Mindful-movement and mindful walking were problematic in group 1. This component of mindfulness-based stress reduction was simplified in group 2. A pre-course orientation session was introduced, and some organisational changes made based on feedback from group 1. Feedback from group 2 was positive in all these areas. Discussion: Mindfulness-based stress reduction appears beneficial to people with multiple sclerosis, albeit mindful-movement required some modification. Contextual and organisational issues also appear important in this population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-166
Number of pages13
JournalChronic Illness
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


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