Mindfulness-Based Meditation for Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis in the Multple Sclerosis Clinic

Friday, May 29, 2015
Griffin Hall
Cecilia Wan, OT Reg. (Ont.) , MS Clinic, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada

Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system which has an impact on the client’s physical, cognitive, functional and emotional status. Pain (physical, emotional), limb weakness, fatigue, sensory changes and symptoms of depression and anxiety are commonly reported symptoms that negatively impact on the affected individual’s psychological functioning, and overall quality of life (Grossman et al., 2010). 

Mindfulness is the awareness that arises when we pay attention, non-judgmentally, to what is happening in the present moment (Gardner-Nix & Costin-Hall, 2009). Mindfulness meditation has been used in a variety of treatments (i.e. for coping with chronic pain, depression and anxiety) and mindfulness training for individuals with MS have been shown to enhance quality of life, alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety and fatigue and improve physical balance (Grossman et al., 2010; Mills & Allen, 2000).

Objectives: To determine the impact of a Mindfulness-Based Meditation group for clients with MS at the St. Michael’s Hospital (SMH) in Toronto, Canada who have reported pain (chronic, neuropathic, emotional), fatigue, stress and symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Methods: Two 11 week-Mindfulness-Based Meditation programs were implemented between April-June and Sept-November of 2014. This program utilizes the Mindfulness-Based Chronic Pain Management (MBCPM) curriculum developed by Dr. Jackie Gardner-Nix, a staff physician at SMH. Clients met once a week for 2 hrs and 15 mins each to discuss a variety of topics (i.e. judging, mind-body connection) and to practice multiple types of meditations (i.e. body scan, guided imagery). 24 clients (11 from the first cycle and 13 from the second cycle) participated. Clients who failed to complete the post-questionnaires and/or those who completed less than four classes were excluded, resulting in 13 participants. Demographic information was collected at baseline. Pre and post data was collected using the MS Quality of life (MSQOL)-54 instrument and the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS).

Results: Results showed a 39.70% reduction in their PCS. Participants also had a 30.25% and 45.24% improvement for their Physical Composite Score and their Mental health Composite Score in the MSQOL-54 respectively.

Conclusions: The Mindfulness-Based Meditation group for clients with MS at SMH appears to be an effective adjunct to conventional treatment in lowering client’s perceived pain and increase in QOL.