Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are becoming increasingly popular for helping people with physical health conditions. Expanding from traditional face-to-face program delivery, there is growing interest in Web-based application of MBIs, though Web-based MBIs for people with physical health conditions specifically have not been thoroughly reviewed to date.
The objective of this paper was to review Web-based MBIs for people with physical health conditions and to examine all outcomes reported (eg, efficacy or effectiveness for physical changes or psychological changes; feasibility).
Databases PubMed, PsycINFO, Science Direct, CINAHL Plus, and Web of Science were searched. Full-text English papers that described any Web-based MBI, examining any outcome, for people with chronic physical health conditions were included. Randomized, nonrandomized, controlled, and uncontrolled trials were all included. Extracted data included intervention characteristics, population characteristics, outcomes, and quality indicators. Intervention characteristics (eg, synchronicity and guidance) were examined as potential factors related to study outcomes.
Of 435 publications screened, 19 published papers describing 16 studies were included. They examined Web-based MBIs for people with cancer, chronic pain or fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), epilepsy, heart disease, tinnitus, and acquired brain injury. Overall, most studies reported positive effects of Web-based MBIs compared with usual care on a variety of outcomes including pain acceptance, coping measures, and depressive symptoms. There were mixed results regarding the effectiveness of Web-based MBIs compared with active control treatment conditions such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Condition-specific symptoms (eg, cancer-related fatigue and IBS symptoms) targeted by treatment had the largest effect size improvements following MBIs. Results are inconclusive regarding physical variables.
Preliminary evidence suggests that Web-based MBIs may be helpful in alleviating symptom burden that those with physical health conditions can experience, particularly when interventions are tailored for specific symptoms. There was no evidence of differences between synchronous versus asynchronous or facilitated versus self-directed Web-based MBIs. Future investigations of Web-based MBIs should evaluate the effects of program adherence, effects on mindfulness levels, and whether synchronous or asynchronous, or facilitated or self-directed interventions elicit greater improvements.
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Source: Toivonen KI, Zernicke K, Carlson LE. Web-Based Mindfulness Interventions for People with Physical Health Conditions: Systematic Review. J Med Internet Res. 2017 Aug 31;19(8):e303. doi: 10.2196/jmir.7487.