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Pilot controlled trial of mindfulness meditation and education for dementia caregivers


Oken, Barry S., Fonareva, Irina, Haas, Mitchell, Wahbeh, Helane, Lane, James B., Zajdel, Daniel, Amen, Alexandra


Journal Of Alternative And Complementary Medicine (New York, N.Y.), Volume: 16, No.: 10, Pages.: 1031-1038

Year of Publication



Objectives: The objectives of this study were to evaluate whether a mindfulness meditation intervention may be effective in caregivers of close relatives with dementia and to help refine the protocol for future larger trials.; Design: The design was a pilot randomized trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a mindfulness meditation intervention adapted from the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy program in relation to two comparison groups: an education class based on Powerful Tools for Caregivers serving as an active control group and a respite-only group serving as a pragmatic control.; Settings/location: This study was conducted at the Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR.; Subjects: The subjects were community-dwelling caregivers aged 45-85 years of close relatives with dementia.; Interventions: The two active interventions lasted 7 weeks, and consisted of one 90-minute session per week along with at-home implementation of knowledge learned. The respite-only condition provided the same duration of respite care that was needed for the active interventions.; Outcome Measures: Subjects were assessed prior to randomization and again after completing classes at 8 weeks. The primary outcome measure was a self-rated measure of caregiver stress, the Revised Memory and Behavior Problems Checklist (RMBPC). Secondary outcome measures included mood, fatigue, self-efficacy, mindfulness, salivary cortisols, cytokines, and cognitive function. We also evaluated self-rated stress in the subjects’ own environment, expectancy of improvement, and credibility of the interventions.; Results: There were 31 caregivers randomized and 28 completers. There was a significant effect on RMBPC by group covarying for baseline RMBPC, with both active interventions showing improvement compared with the respite-only group. Most of the secondary outcome measures were not significantly affected by the interventions. There was an intervention effect on the caregiver self-efficacy measure and on cognitive measures. Although mindfulness was not impacted by the intervention, there were significant correlations between mindfulness and self-rated mood and stress scores.; Conclusions: Both mindfulness and education interventions decreased the self-rated caregiver stress compared to the respite-only control.;

Bibtex Citation

@article{Oken_2010, doi = {10.1089/acm.2009.0733}, url = {}, year = 2010, month = {oct}, publisher = {Mary Ann Liebert Inc}, volume = {16}, number = {10}, pages = {1031--1038}, author = {Barry S. Oken and Irina Fonareva and Mitchell Haas and Helane Wahbeh and James B. Lane and Daniel Zajdel and Alexandra Amen}, title = {Pilot Controlled Trial of Mindfulness Meditation and Education for Dementia Caregivers}, journal = {The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine} }


aged, aged, 80 and over, caregivers, dementia, education, health education, humans, meditation, methods, middle aged, mindfulness, pilot projects, psychology, psychotherapy, respite care, self report, stress physiological, stress, psychological, therapy, treatment outcome

Countries of Study


Types of Dementia

Dementia (general / unspecified)

Types of Study

Randomised Controlled Trial

Type of Outcomes

Carers’ Mental Health



Type of Interventions

Intervention for Carers

Carer Focussed Interventions

Training programmes / workshops including behavioural training, Wellbeing interventions (e.g. massage, physical health checks, relaxation techniques, self-care advice)