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Mindfulness Research

At Breathworks we aim to continually evaluate the clinical effects of our mindfulness-based pain management programme, and to maintain an ongoing programme of research partnerships and collaborations.  Details of results and published studies are listed below.

Evidence of Success - Executive Summary

  • Breathworks Executive Summary: Living Well Programmes - Mindfulness Approaches to Health and Wellbeing
    PDF download or HTML

Further documents can be read in conjunction with the Executive Summary:

  • Article 1. The evidence base for mindfulness based interventions for chronic pain
    PDF download or HTML
  • Article 2. Mindfulness - definitions and description of its role in clinical settings
    PDF download or HTML
  • Article 3. The distinction between mindfulness and other psychological therapies for the treatment of chronic pain
    PDF download or HTML
  • Article 4. Table of quantitative evidence
    PDF download or HTML

The full powerpoint of our research is also available as PDF download.

Quantitative Published Studies

1. Psychobiological correlates of improved mental health in patients with musculoskeletal pain after a mindfulness-based pain management program.

Christopher A. Brown, PhD and Anthony K. P. Jones, MD

Human Pain Research Group, University of Manchester Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, Salford, UK

Clinical Journal of Pain, 2013, Mar;29(3):233-44.

Abstract here

This study, conducted by the Human Pain Research Group (within the Clinical Neurosciences Group at the University of Manchester), investigated the therapeutic mechanisms of mindfulness-based pain management in patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain. Patients were assessed using a series of tests (such as sustained attention tasks, EEG scans and questionnaires) before and after the Breathworks Mindfulness for Health programme. The lead author stated that: "The Breathworks programme improved the mental well-being of patients and their sense of being able to control their pain symptoms. These improvements were related to changes in patterns of activity in brain regions involved with cognitive control and emotional regulation."  Further detailed studies are in the planning stages.

2. Evaluation of the Breathworks mindfulness-based pain management programme: Effects of well-being and multiple measures of mindfulness

Cusens B1, Duggan GB, Thorne K, Burch V.

Clinical Psychology and Psychotheraphy. 2010 Jan-Feb;17(1):63-78.

Abstract here

Further details are also available in the associated PhD thesis (Bryony Cusens, 2009, University of Bath).

3.  Two-Week Web-Based Mindfulness Training Reduces Stress, Anxiety, and Depressive Symptoms in Individuals with Self-reported Stress: A Randomized Control Trial'

Nina Vesa, Liza Liedberg and Michael Rönnlund*

Department of Psychology, Umeå University, S-90187 Sweden

This study examined the effects of a short-term web-based mindfulness program - the Breathworks/MFC Online Mindfulness Taster Course. 70 participants with severe stress were randomly assigned to a group taking the course and a control group. Pre and post questionnaire measures showed that mindfulness training increased mindfulness skills and reduced levels of perceived stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms, with no such changes observed in the control group. Additionally, measured changes in mindfulness skills were associated with reductions in symptom scores, indicating treatment-specific effects.

Abstract & Article here or download the PDF - pdfPDF Download458.5 KB 

4.  Effects of Eight-Week-Web-Based Mindfulness Training on Pain Intensity, Pain Acceptance, and Life Satisfaction in Individuals With Chronic Pain

Jessica Henriksson, Emma Wasara, Michael Rönnlund

Department of Psychology, Umeå University, S-90187 Umeå, Sweden. Email:


This study examined the effects of the Breathworks eight-week-web-based mindfulness program designed for individuals with chronic pain. A sample of 107 participants with chronic pain (M = 51.0 years, SD = 9.3) were randomly assigned to a treatment group and a control group. The mindfulness program involved 20 minutes of training per day, six days a week, for eight weeks. During this period, the control group was invited to an online discussion forum involving pain-related topics. A total of 77 participants completed the post intervention assessment (n = 36 in the treatment group, n = 41 in the control group). The group assigned to mindfulness training showed increased mindfulness skills (Cohen's d = 1.18), reduced pain intensity (d = 0.47–0.82), reduced pain-related interference/suffering (d = 0.39–0.85), heightened pain acceptance (d = 0.66), reduced affective distress (d = 0.67), and higher ratings of life satisfaction (d = 0.54) following the training with no or minor changes up for the control group (d values 0.01–0.23), a pattern substantiated by significant group-by-time interactions. Despite limitations of this study, including a less than ideal control group to isolate effects of mindfulness and lack of a long-term follow-up, the results appear promising and may motivate further investigations.

Abstract & Article here or download the PDF - pdfAbstract and Article.pdf204.27 KB

Qualitative Published Studies

1. Experiencing Wellness Within Illness: Exploring a Mindfulness-Based Approach to Chronic Back Pain

Natasha J. Doran (PhD)

Qualitative Health Research, 2014, June, vol. 24, no. 6, pp 749-760

Abstract here

A longitudinal qualitative study that included sixteen people from the Breathworks programme.

For more about this project:

  • A poster presentation (PDF download or HTML) from the Annual Scientific Meeting of the British Pain Society 2009
  • Powerpoint Presentation HTML summary of a subset of the results (powerpoint download)
  • Doran, N J (2007) Journeys through health-care: A qualitative study exploring perceptions and experiences of health seeking for chronic back pain in the north-west of England, (PhD Thesis). Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, School of Medicine, Division of Primary Care. University of Manchester, Quantitative Studies. pp 1 – 265. (Available from the John Rylands library, University of Manchester by inter-library loan or direct from the library.)

2.  Starting where I am: a grounded theory exploration of mindfulness as a facilitator of transition in living with a long-term condition

Dr Jaqui Long, Michelle Briggs, Andrew Long & Felicity Astin (PhD)

Breathworks Research Manager Colin Duff writes:  We are delighted to announce the publication of a new article on the Breathworks programme in the Journal of Advanced Nursing: "Starting where I am: a grounded theory exploration of mindfulness as a facilitator of transition in living with a long-term condition". The study came out of the doctoral study of Dr Jaqui Long, involving qualitative interviews and focus groups with 41 Mindfulness for Health course participants, reporting highly positive life changes and benefits sustained for many years after the course.

Dr Jaqui Long of Leicester De Montford University writes: This publication is a result of my PhD research, which was undertaken with participants of the Breathworks' Living Well with Pain and Illness course (now Mindfulness for Health). In particular, it focused on the experiences of participants who had learnt mindfulness some time ago - up to 8 or 9 years in some cases - to see what changes it had made in how they lived with and managed long term illness. Participants with a range of physical and/or mental health conditions took part in interviews and focus groups, and the data was analysed to identify the key themes in how people talked about their experience. The key theme identified was "Starting where I am" - which is the title of the paper - which sums up how participants were able to be more aware of and accepting of their illness and themselves, and as a result to respond to their needs more appropriately and compassionately.

An abstract is available for view at:, or you can download this four page PDF Summary: Research_summary_-_Jaqui_Long.pdf (127.9 KB).   The full paper is available through the university library system.

Other Studies

1. Department of Health – staff well-being pilot

At the beginning of 2013, Breathworks successfully bid to run an innovative wellbeing pilot for staff of the Department of Health at their main offices in London and Leeds, UK.  The programme was designed as a health and wellbeing support initiative for staff, and as a “proof of concept” study assessing benefits and challenges to wider implementation.

  • Statistically significant changes for the group as a whole included:
  • Reduced Perceived Stress.
  • Improvement in Satisfaction with Life.
  • Improved Wellbeing.
  • Reduced sense of isolation.
  • Less likely to be overwhelmed by painful thoughts and feelings.

2. Randomised Control Trial into Online Mindfulness Training for Chronic Pain

The study was a randomised controlled trial with a partly active control group. 21 participants from the intervention group and 40 participants from the control group completed post measurement. The intervention group, who took part in the Mindfulness for Health online course, demonstrated:

  • increased levels of mindfulness,
  • reduced pain related distress
  • heightened pain acceptance
  • increased quality of life
  • a strong tendency towards a perceived reduction of pain intensity

The research is available as PDF download.

3. Mindfulness and work preparedness pilot programme

Breathworks completed this inspiring and successful programme in collaboration with the Department of Health North West and National Health Service North West.

For more details see here

Latest Current Research Update - June 2016

Breathworks is engaged in an on-going programme of research with university and hospital partners.  There are several partnerships in progress at the moment that we hope will build a more substantial body of research, which in turn will help to make the case for larger clinical trials.

Some of the partnerships in progress are the following:

  • A PhD study is in progress trialling the online Mindfulness for Health course for patients at the National Spinal Injuries Centre and their partners, exploring the effect of mindfulness practice on quality of life. The study is now entering the data analysis stage, with initial feedback very positive.


  • A doctoral study trialling the Mindfulness for Health book and CD with gastrointestinal in-patients at University College London Hospital (UCLH) was completed in 2015, and is currently being written up for publication.


  • Several research bids are in process, including for older people with pain, for people experiencing late effects of cancer and its treatment, and for people living with multiple long-term conditions. There are other bids in development, including comparing online and group delivery of Mindfulness for Health.

Further information on our ongoing research program can be viewed in this Breathworks Blog.

Breathworks are always keen to build and support research partnerships, if you wish to discuss any opportunities please do get in touch with our research lead, Colin Duff: 




New Content in Progress - 13 Feb 2017, due to be complete by 18th Feb 2017 - Apologies for any inconvenience.

Despite the fact that mindfulness has been practised for thousands of years in the East, it was Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn (1982) who first recognised the potential for a therapy in modern day clinical settings, finding that mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) could effectively reduce negative factors such as psychological distress in those living with chronic back pain. Since such discoveries, mindfulness has become an extremely popular topic for psychologists, with 674 scientific studies being published in 2015 alone! Evidence has found mindfulness meditation to benefit a huge variety of health conditions, for example:

  • Improving mood and quality of life in chronic pain conditions, for example reducing levels of depression and anxiety.
  • Reducing physical pain and the emotional reaction to it, allowing individuals to change their relationship with their condition by living in harmony with their pain rather than trying to fight it.
  • Improving social functioning by strengthening relationships, improving sleep quality and decreasing the level of interference that pain has on daily activities
  • Re-establishing a sense of control by learning coping mechanisms and feeling empowered in knowing that they have a choice in response to pain and discomfort.
At Breathworks, we aim to continually evaluate the clinical effects of our mindfulness-based pain management programme (MBPM) and to maintain an ongoing programme of research partnerships and collaborations. To find out more about our findings and partnership opportunities, please explore the following links below.
Internal Evaluations Research Home Page 5 Published Findings Research Partnership Opportunities 1 Specific Long Term Health Conditions