At Breathworks we take research very seriously and continually evaluate the clinical effects of our mindfulness-based pain management programme.

Evidence of Success – Executive Summary

  • Breathworks Executive Summary: Living Well Programmes – Mindfulness Approaches to Health and Wellbeing PDF download or HTML
  • Further documents can be read in conjunction with the Executive Summary:
  • Article 1. The evidence base for mindfulness based interventions for chronic pain PDF download or HTML
  • Article 2. Mindfulness – definitions and description of its role in clinical settings PDF download or HTML
  • Article 3. The distinction between mindfulness and other psychological therapies for the treatment of chronic pain PDF download or HTML
  • Article 4. Table of quantitative evidence PDF download or HTML

The full powerpoint of our research is also available as PDF download.


Longitudinal Qualitative Study

Dr Natasha Doran completed a longitudinal qualitative PhD study that included sixteen people from the Breathworks programme:

A paper based on this project entitled Experiencing Wellness Within Illness: Exploring a Mindfulness-Based Approach to Chronic Back Pain has been accepted for publication in the scientific journal Qualitative Health Research (QHR).

It will be available online late 2013 or early 2014 and also in a printed format in June 2014 as a special themed issue on the body.

The full study is available from the John Rylands library at University of Manchester by inter-library loan or direct from the library:

  • Doran, N J (2007) Journeys through health-care: A qualitative study exploring perceptions and experiences of health seeking for chronic back pain in the north-west of England, Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, School of Medicine, Division of Primary Care. University of Manchester, Quantitative Studies. pp 1 – 265

Dr Bryony Cusens’s quantitative PhD study from 2008

It is published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Volume 17, Issue 1, January/February 2010, pp 63 – 78. Available online in Wiley InterScience, www.interscience.wiley.com.

  • Evaluation of the Breathworks mindfulness-based pain management programme: Effects of well-being and multiple measures of mindfulness Published Article PDF download

Current Research

The Human Pain Research Group, within the Clinical Neurosciences Group at the University of Manchester, has been conducting research into the therapeutic mechanisms of mindfulness-based pain management in patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain. Patients undergo a series of tests before and after the Breathworks Living Well with Pain and Illness programme, such as sustained attention tasks, EEG scans and questionnaires. A paper analysing results from the study is in publication in the Clinical Journal of Pain (Aug 2012, Brown CA, Jones AKP: Psychobiological correlates of improved mental health in patients with musculoskeletal pain after a mindfulness-based pain management program). The lead author wrote that: “The Breathworks programme improved the mental well-being of patients and their sense of being able to control their pain symptoms. These improvements were related to changes in patterns of activity in brain regions involved with cognitive control and emotional regulation.” (More detailed summary here) Further detailed studies are in the planning stages.


Mindfulness and work preparedness pilot programme

Breathworks working in collaboration with the Department of Health North West and National Health Service North West.


Other Mindfulness Research

Over the last thirty years a substantial body of research has been conducted into mindfulness-based interventions for health care.

The links below are to external sites:

Below is a selected list of major research studies and/or findings:

1982, the first peer-reviewed scientific paper about mindfulness meditation for chronic pain patients was published in General Hospital Psychiatry by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, based on data gathered in the first years of the Stress Reduction Program at UMass Memorial Medical Center. Other papers describing patient outcomes followed in 1985, 1986, 1988, 1992, 1995, and 1997.

1992, the Inner-City Stress Reduction Clinic began, offering a free stress reduction program for lower-income, inner-city participants in Worcester, MA. The program and associated study continued for seven years, with over 500 people completing the program.

1992, the Massachusetts Committee on Criminal Justice funded a $1M project to bring MBSR to the state prison population. This program continued for 4 years and served 1,350 inmates. In 2006, Marlene Samuelson, PhD, along with James Carmody, PhD, et al, published in Prison Journal, the results, showing substantial reductions in hostility and mood disturbance, and increases in self-esteem.

1998, Jon Kabat-Zinn and colleagues published a randomized trial in Psychosomatic Medicine demonstrating a four-fold increase in the rate of skin clearing in patients with psoriasis practicing mindfulness, while receiving phototherapy.

2003, with Richard Davidson, PhD, Jon Kabat-Zinn and colleagues published a study in Psychosomatic Medicine showing positive changes in brain activity, emotional processing under stress, and immune function in people taking an MBSR course in a corporate work setting in a randomized clinical trial.

2003, the Center received the first federally funded DOD grant to study stress reduction and prostate cancer; James Carmody, PhD, principal investigator.

2006, the Center’s clinical research infrastructure supported two NIH-funded studies of MBSR for hot flashes and asthma in adult populations. James Carmody, PhD, and Lori Pbert, PhD, principal investigators. Pilot data from the hot flash study suggested preliminary positive evidence of the feasibility and efficacy of MBSR in supporting women who are experiencing severe hot flashes. Data from the asthma study suggested MBSR produced lasting and clinically significant improvements in asthma-related quality of life and stress in patients with persistent asthma, without improvements in lung function.

2008, Drs. David Ludwig and Jon Kabat-Zinn published the “Mindfulness in Medicine” article in the Journal of the American Medical Association exploring clinical applications, research challenges, and possible mechanisms of action.

2011, Drs. Britta Hölzel, James Carmody, et al, published “Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density” in Psychiatry Research. Anatomical magnetic resonance (MR) images from 16 healthy, meditation-naïve participants were obtained before and after they underwent the 8-week program. The results suggested that participation in MBSR is associated with changes in gray matter concentration in brain regions involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.