Inflammatory bowel disease patients benefit from mindfulness training

Inflammatory bowel disease patients benefit from mindfulness trainingMental health and quality of life for patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can be achieved through mindfulness training and meditation, according to new findings. In the report, Dr. David Castle concluded, “Our study provides support for the feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness of a tailored mindfulness-based group intervention for patients with IBD.”

A mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program was evaluated on its effectiveness for IBD patients. Sixty adult patients with IBD – either Crohn’s or colitis – were used for the study. The MBSR program consisted of eight weeks of group sessions and one day-long event led by an experienced instructor. The program had guided meditations, exercises for enhanced mindfulness, group discussions to overcome challenges and encouragement to practice meditation at home.


Thirty-three patients agreed to be in the program and 27 completed it. Ratings of mental health, quality of life, and mindfulness were compared with those who did not participate.

Anxiety and depression were greatly reduced in those who partook in the MBSR program. Their physical and psychological quality of life also improved.

After six months, the MBSR group still saw a decline in depression and anxiety and improvement in their quality of life. The patients from the MBSR were highly satisfied with the program.

Psychological distress, such as depression, anxiety and poor quality of life, can have a negative impact on IBD symptoms and make them worse. Previous research has shown benefits of MBSR on other illnesses, but there is still limited research on the subject.


The research shows that MBSR can have lasting effects and is well tolerated by patients. Dr. Castle commented, “This work reinforces the interaction between physical and mental aspects of functioning, and underscores the importance of addressing both aspects in all our patients.”

He concluded, “A larger adequately powered, randomized study with an active control arm is warranted to evaluate the effectiveness of a mindfulness group program for patients with IBD in a definitive manner.”


Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.