Mindfulness: A Nonpharmacological Approach to Diabetes Management

Cynthia R. Gross, Diane K. Reibel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Diabetes care requires that patients engage in continuous, moment-to-moment self-management and problem-solving to maintain glycemic control. In this review, we propose a framework to explain the direct and indirect ways mindfulness training that promotes glycemic control and facilitates effective diabetes self-management. Mindfulness training builds the capacity to self-regulate emotions. In this way, mindful patients may mitigate stresses that cause harmful shifts in blood glucose, and limit the negative moods that trigger unhealthy habits and non-adherence. Mindfulness training builds the capacity to maintain present-moment attention and awareness. Especially for those with diabetes, noticing variability in symptom intensity, duration, and presence is critical for timely recognition of cues for action. With insight and acceptance, mindful patients may gain self-compassion and openness, and increase their motivation to maintain healthful coping behaviors. Findings from randomized trials and studies of mindfulness training in patients with diabetes are presented and discussed. Overall, there is limited, but promising evidence that mindfulness is a beneficial adjunct to educational and pharmacologic interventions for patients with diabetes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Mindfulness
PublisherWiley Blackwell
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781118294895
ISBN (Print)9781118294871
StatePublished - Mar 21 2014


  • Chronic illness
  • Diabetes management
  • Mental health
  • Mindfulness training
  • Nonpharmacological approach


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