Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
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Efficacy of mindfulness-based intervention for the treatment of chronic headaches: a systematic review and meta-analysis

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-11-20, 17:01 authored by Muhammad Aemaz Ur Rehman, Radeyah Waseem, Ume Habiba, Muhammad Fahad Wasim, Soha Alam Rehmani, Maha Alam Rehmani, Maryam Abdullah, Yumna Khabir, Mahnoor Rehan Hashmi, Talal Almas, Syed Shahan Ali, Syed Muhammad Huzaifa Shah, Kaneez Fatima

Background: Mindfulness-based stress reduction/cognitive therapy has attained popularity as an adjunctive treatment for a plethora of medical and psychiatric conditions, however, its impact on chronic headaches is inconclusive. This review aims to assess the impact of MBSR/MBCT in alleviating the symptoms of chronic headaches.

Data sources and data selection: PubMed and Cochrane CENTRAL were searched from inception till 1st May 2021. Randomized Control Trials evaluating mindfulness-based stress reduction/cognitive therapy with either passive comparators (usual care) or active comparators (e.g., Health education or cognitive behavioral therapy) for chronic headaches (Migraine, Tension-type, or cluster headaches), which evaluated either headache frequency, pain intensity or headache duration as primary outcome were eligible for inclusion. The Risk of Bias was evaluated using the Cochrane Collaboration's Risk of Bias Tool.

Results: A total of ten Randomized Controlled Trials (five on migraine; three on tension-type; two with mixed samples) were evaluated. In comparison to usual care, mindfulness-based stress reduction/cognitive therapy did not illustrate significant changes in headache frequency (MD = -0.14; 95% CI -1.26 to 0.97; P = 0.80; Moderate Certainty), headache duration (MD = -0.27; 95% CI -3.51 to 2.97, P = 0.87; Low Certainty) or pain intensity (MD = -0.19; 95% CI -0.46 to 0.07; P = 0.15; Moderate Certainty).

Conclusion: The results found are insignificant for the three primary outcomes, which may be due to the low number of participants and often a high or unclear risk of bias in the randomized control trials included. Perhaps more aggressive clinical trials with a larger sample size effectively demonstrate differences in outcomes before and after therapy for MBSR/MBCT could provide a more significant change.



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Published Citation

Aemaz Ur Rehman M, et al. Efficacy of mindfulness-based intervention for the treatment of chronic headaches: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Med Surg (Lond). 2022;78:103862.

Publication Date

27 May 2022

PubMed ID



  • Undergraduate Research


Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.


  • Published Version (Version of Record)