Effects of mindfulness-based interventions on alexithymia: a systematic review

Norman, Hilary; Marzano, Lisa; Coulson, Mark and Oskis, Andrea. 2019. Effects of mindfulness-based interventions on alexithymia: a systematic review. Evidence Based Mental Health, 22(1), pp. 36-43. ISSN 1362-0347 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Question Alexithymia has been found to be modifiable through treatment, with associated clinical benefits. Recent studies have begun to test the potential of mindfulness-based interventions to reduce alexithymia, using skills-based, group training to improve non-judgemental, present-moment awareness. The objective of this review therefore was to conduct a systematic synthesis to assess the current state of knowledge about the effect of mindfulness-based interventions on alexithymia to inform clinical practice.

Study selection and analysis We carried out a systematic review of the literature and found four randomised controlled trials of the effect of mindfulness-based interventions on alexithymia, with a combined total of 460 participants.

Findings A random-effects meta-analysis, combining study endpoint data, showed a statistically significant effect of mindfulness-based treatment on alexithymia (Toronto Alexithymia Scale) compared with the control group (mean difference=−5.28, 95% CI −9.28 to −1.28, p=0.010). Subgroup analysis was conducted to investigate sources of heterogeneity (I2=52%). Heterogeneity was reduced when the meta-analysis was restricted to interventions of a similar duration (3 months or less).

Conclusions Findings from our study should be replicated in further research with larger samples; however, the results indicate that mindfulness-based interventions may be an effective treatment in reducing alexithymia.

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“This article has been accepted for publication in Evidence Based Mental Health, 2019 following peer review, and the Version of Record can be accessed online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/ebmental-2018-300029.”

“© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2019.”: “Reuse of this manuscript version (excluding any databases, tables, diagrams, photographs and other images or illustrative material included where a another copyright owner is identified) is permitted strictly pursuant to the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC-BY-NC 4.0) http://creativecommons.org”


alexithymia; Toronto Alexithymia Scale; mindfulness; meta-analysis; intervention

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29 June 2018Accepted
4 August 2018Published Online
1 February 2019Published

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Date Deposited:

15 Dec 2022 13:04

Last Modified:

15 Dec 2022 13:10

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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