Mediators and moderators of change in mindfulness-based stress reduction for painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy

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Main idea: Mindfulness and not pain catastrophizing significantly mediated outcomes. The moderating effects of patient characteristics were not significant, although some linear patterns where J Behav Med 123 found guide future research. Post-hoc analyses suggested that some mediated effects were additionally moderated by the duration of diabetes.

Abstract: Painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy (PDPN) is a chronic pain condition with a modest response to pharmacotherapy. Participation in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) leads to improvements in pain-related outcomes but the mechanisms of change are unknown. The present study examined the mediators and moderators of change in 62 patients with PDPN who participated in a randomized controlled trial comparing MBSR to the waitlist. Changes in mindfulness and pain catastrophizing were tested simultaneously as mediators. Increased mindfulness mediated the association between participation in MBSR and improved pain severity, pain interference, and the physical component of health-related quality of life (HRQoL) 3 months later. The mediation effect of pain catastrophizing was not significant. Linear moderated trends were also found. Post-hoc moderated mediation analyses suggested that MBSR patients with longer histories of diabetes might increase their mindfulness levels more, which in turn leads to improved pain severity and physical HRQoL. These results allow for a deeper understanding of pathways by which MBSR benefits patients with PDPN.

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