Research Activities, February 2014

Some meditation programs beneficial for psychological stress

Mental Health

A new research review from AHRQ's Effective Health Care Program finds that meditation programs—particularly mindfulness programs designed to focus attention and awareness on inner and outer experiences with acceptance, patience and compassion—are beneficial for reducing psychological stress including anxiety, depression, and pain. However, there was insufficient evidence on the effect of meditation programs on stress-related behavioral outcomes such as positive mood, attention, substance use, eating, sleep, and weight. 

Photograph shows a man seated in a meditation position. Findings from the report were published January 6 in JAMA Internal Medicine. Meditation, a mind-body method, employs a variety of techniques designed to facilitate the mind's capacity to affect bodily function and symptoms. A national survey in 2008 found that the number of people meditating is increasing, with approximately 10 percent of the population having some experience with meditation. 

No evidence was found to suggest that meditation programs were superior to one specific therapy, such as exercise, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, cognitive behavioral therapy, or medications. Stronger study designs are needed to determine the effects of meditation programs to improve the positive dimensions of mental health, as well as stress-related behavioral outcomes. 

These findings can be found in the research review, Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-Being, which can be accessed at


Page last reviewed February 2014
Page originally created February 2014
Internet Citation: Some meditation programs beneficial for psychological stress. Content last reviewed February 2014. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.