Mindfulness-based stress reduction
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a behavioral medicine program devised by Jon Kabat-Zinn that uses the psychological concept of mindfulness to help people cope better and be more at ease in their life. It is thought to have potential for helping people cope with stress and chronic illness, and research has shown it having a useful effect. While MBSR has its roots in spiritual teachings, the program itself is secular.
MBSR has been described as "a group program that focuses upon the progressive acquisition of mindful awareness, of mindfulness". People enrolled in a MBSR program practice various meditation techniques, including those focussed on breathing and body awareness.
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, the program's inventor, the basis of MBSR is mindfulness, which he defined as "moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness" in an introductory presentation he gave on MBSR.
Evaluation of effectiveness
A 2011 meta-analysis of MBSR trials found it to be a "useful method for improving mental health and reducing symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression" and recommended it as means of improving the quality of life for patients managing disease. The authors suggested that the experience of the MBSR practitioner had a significant impact on an MBSR course's effectiveness, and noted that the course developers recommend several years of training.
A 2010 meta-analysis on the effect of MBSR on the mental health of patients with chronic illness found that it had a small effect on their depressions and psychological distress.
A 2009 meta-analysis of MBSR trials conducted with healthy people found that: "MBSR showed a nonspecific effect on stress reduction in comparison to an inactive control, both in reducing stress and in enhancing spirituality values, and a possible specific effect compared to an intervention designed to be structurally equivalent to the meditation program. A direct comparison study between MBSR and standard relaxation training found that both treatments were equally able to reduce stress. Furthermore, MBSR was able to reduce ruminative thinking and trait anxiety, as well as to increase empathy and self-compassion. However, important limitations of the included studies as well as the paucity of evidence about possible specific effects of MBSR in comparison to other nonspecific treatments underline the necessity of further research." 
A 2003 meta-analysis of the health benefits of MBSR found that it "may be an intervention with potential for helping many to learn to deal with chronic disease and stress" but that higher-quality research was necessary to confirm these findings.
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