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Mindfulness-Based Group Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Provoked Localized Vulvodynia

A Randomized Controlled Trial

Guillet, Alyson D., MD; Cirino, Nicole H., MD; Hart, Kyle D., MS; Leclair, Catherine M., MD

Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease: April 2019 - Volume 23 - Issue 2 - p 170–175
doi: 10.1097/LGT.0000000000000456
Benign Vulvovaginal Disorders

Objective The aim of the study was to compare the effectiveness of mindfulness-based group cognitive behavior therapy (M-gCBT) versus education support group therapy for the pain and distress associated with provoked localized vulvodynia.

Materials and Methods Participants were randomized to M-gCBT or education support group therapy. Mindfulness-based group cognitive behavior participants attended 8 weekly sessions. Education support group participants received 8 weeks of online education with 3 in-person group visits. Vaginal insertion pain (tampon test) was the primary outcome. Secondary outcomes (Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7, Beck's Depression Index, Female Sexual Distress Scale, Female Sexual Function Index, and Pain Catastrophizing) were administered before intervention and at the completion of the study period, 3 months, and 6 months. Sample size was based on the ideal number for group dynamics of 6 to 12 participants per group.

Results Participants were enrolled from August 1, 2016, to January 30, 2017. Thirty-two participants were enrolled and 31 were randomized: 14 to M-gCBT and 17 to education support. Baseline characteristics did not differ significantly. Vaginal insertion pain decreased in both groups but was not statistically different between groups (difference of 1.23; 95% CI = −0.52 to 2.98). At 6 months, participants in the M-gCBT group showed statistically significant improvement in the Female Sexual Function Index, Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7, and Beck's Depression Index compared with the education support group.

Conclusions Mindfulness-based group cognitive behavior and education support group therapy are effective in reducing pain and distress. However, women in the M-gCBT program showed greater improvement in certain secondary outcomes, indicating that M-gCBT may offer some advantages in reducing distress associated with provoked localized vulvodynia.

Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR

Reprint requests to: Catherine M. Leclair MD, Oregon Health & Science University, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd, Portland, OR 97239. E-mail:

Supported by Medical Research Foundation of Oregon.

The OHSU Integrity Office requires faculty to complete a conflict of interest statement annually. The authors are up to date and have declared they have no conflicts of interest.

This study was approved by the institutional review board (IRB #15221) and each participant gave informed consent.

Clinical Trial Registration:; Registration Number NCT 02919813.

Copyright © 2019 by the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology