Loving-Kindness Meditation for Chronic Low Back Pain: Results From a Pilot Trial

James W. Carson, Francis J. Keefe, Thomas R. Lynch, Kimberly M. Carson, Veeraindar Goli, Anne Marie Fras, Steven R. Thorp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

200 Scopus citations


Purpose: Loving-kindness meditation has been used for centuries in the Buddhist tradition to develop love and transform anger into compassion. This pilot study tested an 8-week loving-kindness program for chronic low back pain patients. Method: Patients (N = 43) were randomly assigned to the intervention or standard care. Standardized measures assessed patients’ pain, anger, and psychological distress. Findings: Post and follow-up analyses showed significant improvements in pain and psychological distress in the loving-kindness group, but no changes in the usual care group. Multilevel analyses of daily data showed that more loving-kindness practice on a given day was related to lower pain that day and lower anger the next day. Conclusions: Preliminary results suggest that the loving-kindness program can be beneficial in reducing pain, anger, and psychological distress in patients with persistent low back pain. Implications: Clinicians may find loving-kindness meditation helpful in the treatment of patients with persistent pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-304
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Holistic Nursing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • anger
  • chronic low back pain
  • meditation
  • pain
  • psychological distress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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