A meta-analysis of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) interventions in healthy individuals

Manoj Sharma, University of Cincinnati & Walden University
Bassam Khoury, Harvard University
Sarah E. Rush, University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa
Claude Fournier


Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) as an intervention is gaining popularity in Integrative Medicine. It is being used for both healthy and clinical populations. The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy of MBSR interventions implemented with apparently healthy populations. The methodology entailed conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies published in Medline, CINAHL, and Alt HealthWatch databases from the first available date until September 19, 2014. A total of 29 studies (n = 2,668) met the inclusion criteria. The results that included effect-size estimates found that MBSR interventions were moderately effective in pre-post analyses (n = 26; Hedge’s g = .55; 95% CI [.44, .66], p < .00001) and in between group analyses (n = 18; Hedge’s g = .53; 95% CI [.41, .64], p < .00001). The obtained results were maintained at follow-up (n = 8; Hedge’s g = .66 for pre-post analyses; n = 4; Hedge’s g = .53, p = .08). Results also found large effects on measures pertaining to depression, stress, anxiety, and distress, moderate effects on measures of quality of life, mindfulness, and compassion, and small effects on measures of burnout. When combined, mindfulness and compassion strongly moderated the clinical effect size. However, heterogeneity was significant among the trials, probably due to differences in study designs, the implemented MBSR protocol, and the assessed outcomes. MBSR interventions are moderately to largely effective in reducing depression, anxiety, stress, distress and improving the quality of life of healthy participants.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Other professions or practice related to public health
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences