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A Mindfulness Program Adapted for Adolescents With Chronic Pain: Feasibility, Acceptability, and Initial Outcomes

Ruskin, Danielle A. PhD, CPsych*,†; Gagnon, Michelle M. PhD*; Kohut, Sara A. PhD, CPsych*,‡; Stinson, Jennifer N. PhD*,‡; Walker, Kathryn S. PhD, CPsych*

doi: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000490
Original Articles

Objectives: Pediatric chronic pain is a major health issue that can lead to significant interference in daily functioning. Mindfulness-based interventions (MBI’s), which emphasize acceptance rather than control of pain, have gained increasing attention as a viable treatment option among adults with chronic pain. The effectiveness of MBIs for chronic pain in pediatric populations remains largely unknown. This prospective pre-post interventional study was conducted to examine the feasibility, acceptability, and initial effectiveness of an 8-week group MBI adapted for adolescents (MBI-A) with chronic pain.

Materials and Methods: Self-report measures assessing pain characteristics, anxiety, depression, disability, pain catastrophizing, perceived social support, mindfulness, and pain acceptance were administered at baseline, postintervention, and at a 3-month follow-up. In addition, session data were collected to assess each session’s impact on patients’ coping with pain and stress, body awareness, and sense of feeling less alone.

Results: In total, 42 consecutive patients in a tertiary care chronic pain clinic met eligibility criteria to participate in the MBI-A group. Of these, 21 participated. A treatment completion rate of 90.5% was observed. Between session mindfulness practice was reported by 77% of participants. Participants were highly satisfied with the MBI-A and all participants reported they would recommend the group to a friend. Improvements in pain acceptance were observed between baseline and the 3-month follow-up, in domains of Pain Willingness and Activity Engagement. Session data revealed improved body awareness and improved ability to cope with stress across sessions.

Discussion: The MBI-A is a feasible, well-received intervention for adolescents with chronic pain conditions. Findings support the need for further investigation of the efficacy of MBI-A through randomized-controlled trials.

*The Hospital for Sick Children

Graduate Program in Psychology, York University

Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

Supported by a Pain Seed Grant from the Hospital for Sick Children’s Pain Centre (D.A.R.), Toronto, ON, Canada. The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Danielle A. Ruskin, PhD, CPsych, Department of Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, The Hospital for Sick Children, 555 University Avenue, Toronto, ON, Canada, M5G 1X8 (e-mail:

Received September 23, 2016

Received in revised form February 4, 2017

Accepted February 8, 2017

Copyright © 2017 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.