Mindfulness Meditation for Primary Headache Pain: A Meta-Analysis
Several studies have reported that mindfulness meditation has a potential effect in controlling headaches, such as migraine and tension-type headache; however, its role remains controversial. This review assessed the evidence regarding the effects of mindfulness meditation for primary headache pain.
Only English databases (PubMed, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials [the Cochrane Library], PsycINFO, Psychology and behavioral science collection, PsyArticles, Web of Science, and Scopus) were searched from their inception to November 2016 with the keywords (“meditation” or “mindfulness” or “vipassana” or “dzogchen” or “zen” or “integrative body-mind training” or “IBMT” or “mindfulness-based stress reduction” or “MBSR” or “mindfulness-based cognitive therapy” or “MBCT” and “Headache” or “Head pain” or “Cephalodynia” or “Cephalalgia” or “Hemicrania” or “Migraine”). Titles, abstracts, and full-text articles were screened against study inclusion criteria: controlled trials of structured meditation programs for adult patients with primary headache pain. The quality of studies included in the meta-analysis was assessed with the Yates Quality Rating Scale. The meta-analysis was conducted with Revman 5.3.
Ten randomized controlled trials and one controlled clinical trial with a combined study population of 315 patients were included in the study. When compared to control group data, mindfulness meditation induced significant improvement in pain intensity (standardized mean difference, −0.89; 95% confidence interval, −1.63 to −0.15; P = 0.02) and headache frequency (−0.67; −1.24 to −0.10; P = 0.02). In a subgroup analysis of different meditation forms, mindfulness-based stress reduction displayed a significant positive influence on pain intensity (P < 0.000). Moreover, 8-week intervention had a significant positive effect (P< 0.000).
Mindfulness meditation may reduce pain intensity and is a promising treatment option for patients. Clinicians may consider mindfulness meditation as a viable complementary and alternative medical option for primary headache.