Chronic pain affects 31% of men and 37% of women (Health Survey of England, 2011) and it is estimated that 14 million people live with chronic pain in England alone. Four of the top 12 disabling conditions globally are persistent pain conditions (low-back and neck pain, migraine, arthritis, other musculoskeletal conditions). If we include the burden of other long-term health conditions then it is clear we have an epidemic on our hands, exacerbated by an aging population.

Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) have a promising role to play in alleviating this burden of suffering and are the source of much research. In fact, some of the first quantitative papers published on the medical benefits of mindfulness concerned chronic pain patients (Kabat-Zinn 1982).

Pain, Illness and Injury will present in unique ways for the patient, but mindfulness offers a similar paradigm across all these physical health conditions. Mindfulness helps to alleviate the layers of suffering that are the result of resistance and struggle with the pain or discomfort, regardless of the cause.

Various MBIs are applicable to pain, illness and injury with Breathworks offering specialist Mindfulness-Based Pain and Illness management programmes (MBPM) for patients as well as specialist teacher training for health professionals and others.

There are number of organisations operating in the UK:

Breathworks, a social enterprise and CIC was established in 2001 and is the leading mindfulness organisation delivering courses and teacher training in Mindfulness-based Pain and Illness Management (MBPM) for those living with Pain, Illness, Injury and Stress, as well as professionals caring for patients with these conditions.
It offers high quality courses including online courses, 8-week courses and workshops for health professionals and organisations. Breathworks has more than 200 teachers in more than 18 countries delivering its mission to help those living with pain, illness and stress to live happier and healthier lives regardless of their situation.
Breathworks also runs a charitable foundation whose aim is to raise funds to help subsidise and create bursary funds to further this mission.
For more information visit:

Web resources

Breathworks – - for Mindfulness for Health MBPM courses and specialist teacher training

Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice (CMRP) – 

Mindfulness for cancer -


Bartley, T., (2012) Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Cancer
Burch, V., (2008) Living Well with Pain and Illness
Burch, V., and Penman, D., (2013) Mindfulness for Health
Kabat-Zinn, J., Full Catastrophe Living