HealthDay News — Moderate evidence suggests that meditation is associated with improvements in anxiety, depression and pain, results of a review and meta-analysis indicate.

Madhav Goyal, MD, MPH, from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to determine the efficacy of meditation programs in improving stress-related outcomes in adult clinical populations. Forty-seven randomized clinical trials with active controls for placebo effects involving 3,515 participants were included in meta-analyses. Findings were published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The researchers observed moderate evidence of improved anxiety (effect size, 0.38 at eight weeks and 0.22 at three to six months), depression (effect size, 0.30 at eight weeks and 0.23 at three to six months), and pain (effect size, 0.33) with mindfulness meditation programs.

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Low evidence was found for improved stress/distress and mental health-related quality of life. For positive mood, attention, substance use, eating habits, sleep and weight, there was low evidence of no effect or insufficient evidence of any effect of meditation programs.

No evidence was found to indicate that meditation programs were superior to any active treatment (drugs, exercise or other behavioral treatments).

“Despite the limitations of the literature, the evidence suggests that mindfulness meditation programs could help reduce anxiety, depression and pain in some clinical populations,” the researchers wrote. “Clinicians should be prepared to talk with their patients about the role that a meditation program could have in addressing psychological stress.”


  1. Goyal M et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2014; doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.13018.