Background of Study
The clinical problem that led to the research is the lack of clarity in terms of the benefits of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) for pain management. While MBCT is currently recognized as both a popular and efficient way of pain relief, the knowledge is for the most part unsystematized. According to the consensus, interventions that incorporate mindfulness as their component provide numerous long-term benefits. Nevertheless, the experiences of the patients undergoing the MBCT treatment are generalized and the mechanisms behind the practice, such as the enabling and inhibiting factors, are only vaguely acknowledged.
According to the authors, chronic pain is a condition that creates several persisting issues worldwide, with a global prevalence of one in five adults (Moore & Martin, 2015). In addition to being a major economic challenge, chronic pain is known to be a serious detriment to the quality of life associated with depression, disruption of social relationships, unemployment, and suicidality. The findings of the study are expected to improve the situation by equipping the practitioners with the relevant techniques that have measurable outcomes.
The purpose of the research, according to the authors, is to conceptualize the perceived benefits of the mindfulness-based programs by patients with chronic pain. The authors do not explicitly list the research questions. Nevertheless, they can be inferred from the findings of the research, and are as follows:
- What are the perceived benefits of the MBCT program from the perspective of patients with chronic pain?
- What are the factors that enable or hinder the ongoing mindfulness practice?
- What are the best ways to assist the patients in developing their practice?
As can be seen, both the purpose of the study (the improvement of understanding of benefits of MBCT) and the research questions are related to the problem of chronic pain that they are expected to address.
Method of Study
The qualitative methods were appropriate to answer the research questions for two reasons. First, the study is exploratory in nature and aims to conceptualize the benefits of the practice rather than measure them, which does not require a quantitative approach. Second, the factors impacting the patients’ participation need to be identified, which can be achieved via interviews. While the authors did not identify a specific perspective, it is evident that the initial assumption behind the study was the overall positive influence of the mindfulness-based interventions for pain management. In order to substantiate their positions, the authors conducted a literature review of both qualitative and quantitative studies relevant to the focus of the study.
It is important to note the former were more numerous and were often used for identification of the potentially viable areas of application rather than the specification of the findings. The authors also cited several meta-analyses and systematic reviews to ensure consistency and reputable online resources dealing with the issue of chronic pain management. Some of the sources used by the authors were from 1998 and 1999. However, the majority of the sources were within the ten-year range, which is acceptable for the qualitative study (de Chesnay, 2015). The authors provided the rationale for choosing the qualitative studies as appropriate for the purpose of the review but did not specify the weaknesses of the available studies. The information in the literature review was sufficient to build a logical argument. No framework was developed as a part of the study’s findings.
Results of Study
The findings of the study included the identification of several overarching themes characteristic for the patients using MBCT for chronic pain management. The themes included the belief of the patients in the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions, the extent of control over the process of managing pain, the acceptance of the pain’s persistence without resistance on the part of the respondents, and the emotional and mental struggles between the conflicting ideas and needs during the practice (Moore & Martin, 2015).
According to the research team, these findings are consistent with the results of the studies identified in the literature review. Conversely, the belief in the effectiveness of the practice and the expectation of the avoidance of the negative effects were both reported to motivate the participants to continue the practice. The most prominent hindering factors were the conflicts of priorities caused by work, family, and children, followed by the inability to accept the presence of pain.
The findings of the study contain several implications for nursing practice. Specifically, they create the basis for the development of effective and affordable pain management interventions that incorporate the understanding of the most likely barriers. The current methods of chronic pain relief that rely on the pharmaceutical means can introduce undesirable health effects and may be incompatible with certain conditions. Therefore, MBCT programs have an advantage in terms of increased compatibility and overall positive effect. For nursing science, the results can serve as a viable starting point for studying related phenomena, such as pain catastrophizing. Since this is an exploratory pilot study, its impact would be the most prominent in the areas of research (for identifying the relevant directions for further inquiries and applying quantitative method for measuring the effects of each theme) and nursing practice (as an aid in the development and implementation of specific programs).
The study was approved by the research ethics committee of the hospital where the study was performed as well as the University Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) (Moore & Martin, 2015). The informed consent, including the consent for the recording of the data, was obtained from the respondents prior to the beginning of the study. After the recording, all obtained data was anonymized through de-identification to protect the privacy of the participants. No ethical considerations regarding treatment were brought up since the participation was voluntary, did not eliminate the possibility of receiving pharmaceutical intervention if necessary, and was not associated with adverse health effects (Beck, 2013). The study did not have a control group, so no issues regarding the lack of treatment were expected.
As the recognition of their efficiency increases, the mindfulness-based practices find gradually more applications in numerous areas of nursing practice. The findings of the current research contribute to the effect by confirming the results of the existing studies and further improving the understanding of the mechanisms behind the practice and the factors responsible for their enhancement or disruption. Nevertheless, it is important to understand that the said findings are exploratory in nature and require further research in order to become applicable for nursing practice. In the current form, the study provides an overview of the direction for further inquiry and conceptualization of the benefits that should be acknowledged by nursing practitioners that utilize MBCT programs. Nevertheless, the study findings demonstrate strong potential for the application in nursing education and administrative activities once its implications are refined.
Beck, C. T. (Ed.). (2013). Routledge international handbook of qualitative nursing research. New York, NY: Routledge.
de Chesnay, M. (Ed.). (2015). Nursing research using data analysis: Qualitative designs and methods in nursing. New York, NY: Springer.
Moore, K. M., & Martin, M. E. (2015). Using MBCT in a chronic pain setting: A qualitative analysis of participants’ experiences. Mindfulness, 6(5), 1129-1136.