Evaluating a Mindfulness Meditation Smartphone App among Chronic Pain Patients
Objectives: The objectives of this four-week randomized controlled pilot study were to determine, adjunctive to standard of care, which group (Headspace or Waitlist Control [WLC]) reported a greater improvement in pain-related physical functioning, an increase in mindfulness, and a decrease in aberrant medication related behavior from baseline to post-assessment among individuals with chronic low back or neck pain. Methods: Participants were recruited from a specialty pain clinic who reported chronic low back or neck pain for more than three months. Fifty-nine participants were randomized to Headspace (n = 29) or a WLC group (n = 30). Participants completed online assessments at two time points, baseline and post-assessment at week 4. Results: Analyses indicated no significant Group x Time interaction effects for pain-related physical functioning, mindfulness, or aberrant medication related behavior. Exploratory correlational analyses indicated no significant linear associations between total Headspace sessions completed and change scores in the outcome variables. Similarly, no significant linear associations were observed between total minutes of Headspace completed and change scores in the outcome variables. Conclusions: Overall, the non-significant findings may be related to the small sample size and low observed power. As a result of these limitations, the findings from this pilot study are insufficient to definitively add to the literature on mindfulness. The lack of power signals a demand for future research with larger samples in order to determine feasibility and acceptability of delivering a mindfulness meditation app adjunctive to standard of care for chronic pain populations.