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Mindfulness-based stress reduction in Parkinson’s disease: a systematic review

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McLean G1, Lawrence M2, Simpson R1, Mercer SW3.



Mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) is increasingly being used to improve outcomes such as stress and depression in a range of long-term conditions (LTCs). While systematic reviews on MBSR have taken place for a number of conditions there remains limited information on its impact on individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD).


Medline, Central, Embase, Amed, CINAHAL were searched in March 2016. These databases were searched using a combination of MeSH subject headings where available and keywords in the title and abstracts. We also searched the reference lists of related reviews. Study quality was assessed based on questions from the Cochrane Collaboration risk of bias tool.


Two interventions and three papers with a total of 66 participants were included. The interventions were undertaken in Belgium (n = 27) and the USA (n = 39). One study reported significantly increased grey matter density (GMD) in the brains of the MBSR group compared to the usual care group. Significant improvements were reported in one study for a number of outcomes including PD outcomes, depression, mindfulness, and quality of life indicators. Only one intervention was of reasonable quality and both interventions failed to control for potential confounders in the analysis. Adverse events and reasons for drop-outs were not reported. There was also no reporting on the costs/benefits of the intervention or how they affected health service utilisation.


This systematic review found limited and inconclusive evidence of the effectiveness of MBSR for PD patients. Both of the included interventions claimed positive effects for PD patients but significant outcomes were often contradicted by other results. Further trials with larger sample sizes, control groups and longer follow-ups are needed before the evidence for MBSR in PD can be conclusively judged.