A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial Investigating MBSR for Parkinsons Disease Patients and Their Caregiving Partners: Effects on Distress, Social support, Cortisol, and Inflammation Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract Objectives To examine the preliminary effects of the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program in the management of biopsychosocial stressrelated changes associated with Parkinsons disease (PD) among patient/caregiving-partner dyads. Methods PD patient/caregiving-partner dyads (N=18) early in the disease trajectory were recruited from a university-affiliated movement disorders clinic and were randomized (1:1) to either the MBSR intervention or the control condition (treatment as usual [TAU]). Mixed methods ANOVAs were conducted to examine primary outcomes (disease-specific distress, perceived social support, circadian rhythmicity [cortisol], and markers of inflammation [IL-6, TNF-alpha, IL-1beta]) between groups (MBSR vs. TAU) among patients and caregiving partners separately. Results No participants were lost to follow-up. Given the pilot nature of the current investigation, findings should be interpreted as exploratory opposed to confirmatory. Following MBSR, PD patients reported an increase in disease-specific distress and intrusive thoughts and demonstrated a decrease in mean bedtime cortisol and IL-1beta from baseline to follow-up compared to TAU. Caregiving partners who received MBSR reported an increase in perceived social support and demonstrated improved rhythmicity of diurnal cortisol slopes from baseline to follow-up compared to TAU. Conclusions Both patients and caregiving partners who received MBSR demonstrated improvements in biomarkers of circadian function, and patients evidenced a decrease in a biomarker of systemic inflammation, pointing to an important area of further investigation. Given that patients reported an increase in disease-specific distress and intrusive thoughts, the salutary effects of MBSR may be experienced physiologically prior to, or in lieu of, psychological effects, although this should be explored further, especially given the improvement in perceived social support reported by caregiving partners.

published proceedings

  • Mindfulness

author list (cited authors)

  • Siwik, C. J., Phillips, K., Litvan, I., Salmon, P., Rodgers, A., Jablonski, M., & Sephton, S. E.

complete list of authors

  • Siwik, Chelsea J||Phillips, Kala||Litvan, Irene||Salmon, Paul||Rodgers, Allison||Jablonski, Megan||Sephton, Sandra E

publication date

  • May 2022