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Mindfulness Training and Physical Health

Mechanisms and Outcomes

Creswell, J. David, PhD; Lindsay, Emily K., PhD; Villalba, Daniella K., PhD; Chin, Brian, MA

doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000675

Objective There has been substantial research and public interest in mindfulness interventions, biological pathways, and health for the past two decades. This article reviews recent developments in understanding relationships between mindfulness interventions and physical health.

Methods A selective review was conducted with the goal of synthesizing conceptual and empirical relationships between mindfulness interventions and physical health outcomes.

Results Initial randomized controlled trials in this area suggest that mindfulness interventions can improve pain management outcomes among chronic pain populations, and there is preliminary evidence for mindfulness interventions improving specific stress-related disease outcomes in some patient populations (i.e., clinical colds, psoriasis, irritable bowel syndrome, posttraumatic stress disorder, diabetes, HIV). We offer a stress-buffering framework for the observed beneficial effects of mindfulness interventions and summarize supporting biobehavioral and neuroimaging studies that provide plausible mechanistic pathways linking mindfulness interventions with positive physical health outcomes.

Conclusions We conclude with new opportunities for research and clinical implementations to consider in the next two decades.

From the Department of Psychology (Creswell, Villalba, Chin), Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA; and Department of Psychology (Lindsay), University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.

Address correspondence and reprint request to J. David Creswell, PhD, Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh PA, 15213. E-mail:

Portions of this article were presented at the 2017 American Psychosomatic Society annual conference in Seville, Spain, as part of David Creswell's APS Herbert Weiner Early Career Award address.

Received for publication June 13, 2018; revision received October 26, 2018.

Copyright © 2019 by American Psychosomatic Society
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