(566) Compassion meditation training for people living with chronic pain and their significant others: a pilot study and mixed-methods analysis

      There is a growing need for safe and effective therapies for chronic pain, bringing more attention to mind-body approaches. This pilot study investigated whether a generalized training program incorporating mindfulness and compassion meditation would significantly impact specific outcomes for individuals suffering from chronic pain. This study also examined whether the impact of compassion training on participants with chronic pain would not only be noticeable to individuals closest to them, designated “significant others,” but also benefit these individuals, without undergoing the training themselves. Our primary hypothesis was that this training would result inve reduced pain severity in participants with chronic pain. We also expected decreased pain interference, anger, and emotional distress, as well as increased pain acceptance, psychological well-being, and compassion. We further hypothesized an improvement in the well-being of significant others. Participants with chronic pain took part in a 9-week compassion cultivation training course, and completed questionnaires and interviews both before and after the course. 12 participants with chronic pain were included in the final analysis (10 female, mean age=48.33, SD=10.80) as well as their significant others (3 female, mean age=49.17, SD=11.48). Of the measured outcomes, pain severity (p=.003) and anger (p=.014) were significantly reduced over time, while components of well-being (Ryff Environmental Mastery (p=.003) and Ryff Self-Acceptance (p=.028)) significantly increased over time in participants with chronic pain. There was no significant difference in significant others, but there was a trend in anger reduction. These findings suggest potential benefits of compassion training for chronic pain, and replicate some of the findings of Carson, et al.1 This was a pilot study and a larger powered, more controlled study is warranted to further investigate outcomes. (1. Carson, JW, et al. Loving-kindness meditation for chronic low back pain: Results from a pilot trial, 2005.)