Reducing chronic pain using mindfulness meditation: an exploration of the role of spirituality
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Chronic pain is estimated to affect approximately 29% of the Canadian population and causes far-reaching lifestyle changes and difficulties that have personal, social, and economic impact. Managing pain is a complex task that recently has been recognized as requiring a multidisciplinary approach. Significant amounts of research have been conducted to understand the biological and cognitive bases of pain; and yet, spiritual aspects of chronic pain have received less attention. Despite this, spirituality remains an important coping strategy as reported by individuals managing chronic health conditions. Some interventions in use today have spiritual roots; however, western medical treatments of pain often do not recognize or utilize spirituality on a regular basis. Utilizing one such intervention, namely mindfulness meditation (MM), this study attempted to understand the role that MM plays in the management of chronic pain and the development of spirituality. This study measured self-reported pain, anxiety, depression, and spirituality in individuals engaged in an 8-week group process in which individuals were provided chronic pain related psycho-education either with MM or without. A repeated measures model was utilized to measure changes that occurred in reported pain experiences (using the McGill Pain Questionnaire) and in spirituality (using the Spiritual Assessment Scale ) to determine if changes could be associated with the teaching of MM. Differences in Affective pain ratings were observed and correlations between pain ratings and spirituality discussed. Reasons for the lack of significant findings, including sample size, power, and measures are discussed.