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06-11-2015 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 2/2016

Mindfulness 2/2016

Meditation Awareness Training for Individuals with Fibromyalgia Syndrome: an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Participants’ Experiences

Mindfulness > Uitgave 2/2016
William Van Gordon, Edo Shonin, Mark D. Griffiths


Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a complex and poorly understood psychosomatic pain disorder. The illness has been the subject of controversy, both in terms of the alleged lack of interest and capability of the medical community to understand and support patients with FMS, and the burden that such individuals place upon economic and healthcare resources. Due to the lack of convincing data for the effectiveness of extant pharmacological and non-pharmacological FMS treatments, a recent direction in FMS research has been the empirical investigation of mindfulness and other meditation-based approaches. The present qualitative study explored whether following participation in a mindfulness-based intervention, patients with FMS report experiencing changes in (i) how they experience and relate to their illness and (ii) their attitudes towards societal participation, work and unemployment. Ten individuals with FMS were randomly selected from the intervention arm of a randomised controlled trial (RCT) evaluating the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based intervention known as Meditation Awareness Training (MAT) for the treatment of FMS. Transcripts of semi-structured interviews were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, a robust and rigorous qualitative methodology for analysing subjective experiences. Five super-ordinate themes emerged from the dataset: (i) reservations about participating, (ii) improvements in psychosomatic well-being, (iii) spiritual growth, (iv) awareness of impermanence and (v) increased sense of citizenship. MAT was experienced as both an acceptable and accessible intervention by individuals with FMS, and participants reported experiencing improvements in psychosocial functioning as well as an increased sense of societal responsibility. MAT appears to have utility for treating FMS and for changing the attitudes of some individuals with FMS towards community engagement and societal contribution.

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