Cognitive-Behavioral TherapyMeditationMindfulnessQigongRelaxationTai Chi

Meditation practices for health: Disappointing state of the art

The University of Alberta Evidence-based Practice Center (UAEPC) has reviewed the published literature on meditation practices for health.

They’re not impressed.

Here are the key points.

  • 5 broad categories of meditation practices were identified.
  • Mantra meditation (Transcendental Meditation technique, relaxation response, and clinically standardized meditation)
  • Mindfulness meditation (comprising Vipassana, Zen Buddhist meditation, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy)
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Qi gong

And, the results.

  • 813 studies evaluated
  • Multiple problems with protocols and implementation compromise the reported results.
  • The 3 highest quality studies of mindfulness meditation, relaxation response, and yoga were inconclusive with respect to the effectiveness of meditation practices.

The bottom line?
According to the reviewers, “positive results from these meta-analyses need to be interpreted with caution, as biases, such as expectancy bias, cannot be excluded.”

It appears that many researchers in this field either don’t know how to conduct a decent study or don’t care.

More information on Evidence-based Practice Centers Program of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (formerly the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research) is provided here.

7/1/07 17:41 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.