Mindfulness-based stress reduction for family caregivers: A randomized controlled trial

Robin R. Whitebird, MaryJo Kreitzer, A. Lauren Crain, Beth A. Lewis, Leah R. Hanson, Chris J. Enstad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


Purpose: Caring for a family member with dementia is associated with chronic stress, which can have significant deleterious effects on caregivers. The purpose of the Balance Study was to compare a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) intervention to a community caregiver education and support (CCES) intervention for family caregivers of people with dementia. Design and Methods: We randomly assigned 78 family caregivers to an MBSR or a CCES intervention, matched for time and attention. Study participants attended 8 weekly intervention sessions and participated in home-based practice. Surveys were completed at baseline, postintervention, and at 6 months. Participants were 32- to 82-year-old predominately non-Hispanic White women caring for a parent with dementia. Results: MBSR was more effective at improving overall mental health, reducing stress, and decreasing depression than CCES. Both interventions improved caregiver mental health and were similarly effective at improving anxiety, social support, and burden. Implications: MBSR could reduce stress and improve mental health in caregivers of family members with dementia residing in the community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)676-686
Number of pages11
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health under award number R21AT003654. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


  • Chronic stress
  • Complementary therapies
  • Dementia
  • Mind-body therapies


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