Mindfulnes-Based Stress Reduction for Older Couples with Metabolic Syndrome: a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial



We examined the feasibility and explored the physical, psychological, relational, and biological effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), an 8-week standardized mindfulness program, involving older married couples (60 years or older) with metabolic syndrome (one or both partners had metabolic syndrome). We also explored gender differences.


A pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) compared MBSR to a Wait List Control (WLC) arm at baseline, post-intervention, and 3-month follow-up clinic visits. Twenty-two spouses (11 couples) self-reported stress, physical and mental functioning, mindfulness, and relationship satisfaction at each time point. Fasting glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, weight, and waist circumference were measured. MBSR couples answered questions about partner influences on participation, adherence, and practice at the post-intervention visit.


In terms of adherence to MBSR sessions, four of the six couples attended all ten sessions; one couple attended 7; and one wife attended 6 and her husband attended 5 sessions. In terms of efficacy, there were no significant intervention effects; however, there were significant gender by intervention effects. Pre- to post-intervention, MBSR wives displayed greater increases in physical functioning (β = 1.18, t(36) = 3.17, p = .003) and relationship satisfaction (β = .72, t(36) = 2.81, p = .007) than WLC wives. Effects for husbands were not significant. Qualitatively, participants reported encouragement and increased relationship closeness.


Engaging in MBSR as a couple to address symptoms of metabolic syndrome was well-received and feasible. Preliminary effects suggest more benefits for wives than husbands in terms of physical functioning and relational well-being.

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Data Availability Statement

Data from this study will be made available upon request from the first author.


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We would like to thank Kathleen Williams for assistance with recruitment and data collection.

Funding Information

Funding for this study was provided by Yale’s Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center (P30 AG021342).

Author information

JKM designed and executed the study, assisted with the data analyses, and wrote the paper. CMS collaborated with the writing of the paper and the data analysis. AM analyzed the data and wrote parts of the results. AD and AA collaborated with the design and execution of the study and the writing of the study. MSC collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript. AJ collaborated with the design and execution of the study and the writing of the study.

Ather Ali is deceased on Oct 25, 2017

Correspondence to Joan K. Monin.

Ethics declarations

This study was approved by Yale University’s ethics committee and has therefore been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments. All participants gave their informed consent prior to their inclusion in the study. None of the authors have a financial relationship with the organization that sponsored the research. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Additional information

2017 Older Americans Profile. Retrieved December 10, 2019 from the Adminstration for Community Living website:

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Monin, J.K., Sperduto, C.M., Manigault, A.W. et al. Mindfulnes-Based Stress Reduction for Older Couples with Metabolic Syndrome: a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. Mindfulness (2020).

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  • MBSR
  • Couples
  • Metabolic syndrome