Decreases psychological stress response in breast cancer patients

Kang, G., & Oh, S. (2012). Effects of Mindfulness Meditation Program on Perceived Stress, Ways of Coping, and Stress Response in Breast Cancer Patients. Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing, 42(2), 161-170. [Abstract].

Purpose of this study was to examine the effects of the Mindfulness Meditation program on perceived stress, ways of coping, salivary cortisol level, and psychological stress response in patients with breast cancer.

This was a quasi-experimental study with a non-equivalent control group pre-post test design. Participants in this study were 50 patients who had completed breast cancer treatment (experimental group, 25, control group, 25). The experimental group received the Mindfulness Meditation program for 3 hours/session/ week for 8 weeks.

The experimental group had significantly lower scores for perceived stress, emotional focused coping, salivary cortisol level, and psychological stress response compared to the control group. However, no significant differences were found between two groups for the scores on problem focused stress coping.

Conclusion. According to the results, the Mindfulness Meditation program was useful for decreasing perceived stress, emotional focused coping, salivary cortisol level, and psychological stress response. Therefore, this program is an effective nursing intervention to decrease stress in patients with breast cancer.

MBAT benefitial for breast cancer patients with high stress levels

Monti, D. A., et al. (2013). Psychosocial benefits of a novel mindfulness intervention versus standard support in distressed women with breast cancer. Psycho‐Oncology. Abstract.

Excerpts: It is well documented that stress is associated with negative health outcomes in cancer patients. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of a novel mindfulness intervention called mindfulness-based art therapy (MBAT) versus standard educational support, on indices of stress and quality of life in breast cancer patients with high stress levels.

A total of 191 women were enrolled, stratified by age and stress level, and randomized to receive either an 8-week MBAT intervention or a breast cancer educational support program of equal time and duration.

Results showed overall significant improvements in psychosocial stress and quality of life in both the MBAT and educational support groups immediately post-intervention; however, participants with high stress levels at baseline had significantly improved overall outcomes only in the MBAT group, both immediately post-intervention and at 6 months. In addition, at 6 months follow-up, participants attending five or more sessions trended toward retaining treatment effects better in the MBAT than in the control group.

In conclusion, MBAT is associated with significant, sustained benefits across a diverse range of breast cancer patients, particularly those with high stress levels. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Association between acting with awareness and better sleep in cancer patients

Garland, S. N., Campbell, T., Samuels, C., & Carlson, L. E. (2013). Dispositional mindfulness, insomnia, sleep quality and dysfunctional sleep beliefs in post-treatment cancer patients. Personality and Individual Differences. In press.

Abstract. Dispositional mindfulness, or the tendency to be more mindful in daily life, has been associated with better psychological functioning and reduced overall distress. This study investigated the degree to which dispositional mindfulness was associated with sleep disturbances in cancer patients with insomnia. Further, we examined whether levels of mindfulness moderated the relationship between stress levels, mood disturbance, insomnia severity, sleep quality and dysfunctional sleep beliefs.

Participants (N = 111) were adults who had been previously treated for cancer and currently met diagnostic criteria for insomnia. Higher levels of acting with awareness, non-judging and non-reacting were associated with better sleep and psychological outcomes.

Despite these significant associations, mindfulness facets did not significantly moderate the relationship between stress, mood and sleep outcomes. This negative finding raises the possibility that increased mindfulness may not act directly to improve psychological outcomes, but rather through a series of other cognitive and affective changes. Our results emphasize the importance of addressing mood symptoms and stress appraisals as predictors of sleep disturbance in cancer patients.

Mediates psychological well-being in cancer patients

Bränström, R., et al. (2010). Self-report mindfulness as a mediator of psychological well-being in a stress reduction intervention for cancer patients—A randomized study. [Abstract]. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 39(2), 151-161.

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The aims of this study were to examine the effects of mindfulness stress reduction training on perceived stress and psychological well-being and to examine if changes in mindfulness mediate intervention effects on these outcomes.

Methods: Seventy women and one man with a previous cancer diagnosis (mean age 51.8 years, standard deviation = 9.86) were randomized into an intervention group or a wait-list control group. The intervention consisted of an 8-week mindfulness training course.

Results: Compared to participants in the control group, participants in the mindfulness training group had significantly decreased perceived stress and posttraumatic avoidance symptoms and increased positive states of mind. Those who participated in the intervention reported a significant increase in scores on the five-facet mindfulness questionnaire (FFMQ) when compared to controls. The increase in FFMQ score mediated the effects of the intervention on perceived stress, posttraumatic avoidance symptoms, and positive states of mind.

Conclusions: This study indicates that the improvements in psychological well-being resulting from mindfulness stress reduction training can potentially be explained by increased levels of mindfulness as measured with the FFMQ.

Decreased mood disturbance in cancer patients (6-month follow-up)

Carlson, L.E., et al. (2000). The effects of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction program on mood and symptoms of stress in cancer outpatients: 6-month follow-up. Supportive Care in Cancer, 9, 112–123. Full text 

Abstract: The goals of this work were to assess the effects of participation in a mindfulness meditation based stress reduction program on mood disturbance and symptoms of stress in cancer outpatients immediately after and 6 months after program completion. A convenience sample of eligible cancer patients were enrolled after they had given informed consent. All patients completed the Profile of Mood States (POMS) and Symptoms of Stress Inventory (SOSI) both before and after the intervention and 6 months later.

The intervention consisted of a mindfulness meditation group lasting 1.5 h each week for 7 weeks, plus daily home meditation practice. A total of 89 patients, average age 51, provided pre-intervention data. Eighty patients provided post-intervention data, and 54 completed the 6-month follow-up. The participants were heterogeneous with respect to type and stage of cancer.

Patients’ scores decreased significantly from before to after the intervention on the POMS and SOSI total scores and most subscales, indicating less mood disturbance and fewer symptoms of stress, and these improvements were maintained at the 6-month follow-up. More advanced stages of cancer were associated with less initial mood disturbance, while more home practice and higher initial POMS scores predicted improvements on the POMS between the pre- and post-intervention scores. Female gender and more education were associated with higher initial SOSI scores, and improvements on the SOSI were predicted by more education and greater initial mood disturbance.

Psychosomatic power on ‘in vitro’ cancer cells

Yu, T., et al. (2003). Suppressing Tumor Progression of in vitro Prostrate Cancer Cells by Emitted Psychosomatic Power Through Zen Meditation. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 31(3), 499–507. Full text.

Excerpt from the Abstract: Human prostate cancer PC3 cells were treated in vitro with psychosomatic power emitted by a Buddhist-Zen Master. A significant decrease of growth rate was observed. … These observations provide insight into the suppressive effects of healing power through the practice of Buddhist-Zen meditation on tumor progression. The emitted bioenergy may be suggested as an alternative and feasible approach for cancer research and patient treatment.

Applicable as adjunct therapy during radiotherapy

Henderson, V. P., et al. (2013). A Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Women With Early-Stage Breast Cancer Receiving Radiotherapy. (Abstract). Integrated Cancer Therapy, Epublished January 28.

Purpose. To test the relative effectiveness of a mindfulness-based stress reduction program (MBSR) compared with a nutrition education intervention (NEP) and usual care (UC) in women with newly diagnosed early-stage breast cancer (BrCA) undergoing radiotherapy.

Methods. Data were available from a randomized controlled trial of 172 women, 20 to 65 years old, with stage I or II BrCA. Data from women completing the 8-week MBSR program plus 3 additional sessions focuses on special needs associated with BrCA were compared to women receiving attention control NEP and UC. Follow-up was performed at 3 post-intervention points: 4 months, and 1 and 2 years. Standardized, validated self-administered questionnaires were used to assess psychosocial variables. Descriptive analyses compared women by randomization assignment. Regression analyses, incorporating both intention-to-treat and post hoc multivariable approaches, were used to control for potential confounding variables.

Results. A subset of 120 women underwent radiotherapy; 77 completed treatment prior to the study, and 40 had radiotherapy during the MBSR intervention. Women who actively received radiotherapy (art) while participating in the MBSR intervention (MBSR-art) experienced a significant improvement in 16 psychosocial variables compared with the NEP-art, UC-art, or both at 4 months. These included health-related, BrCA-specific quality of life and psycho-social coping, which were the primary outcomes, and secondary measures, including meaningfulness, helplessness, cognitive avoidance, depression, paranoid ideation, hostility, anxiety, global severity, anxious preoccupation, and emotional control.

Conclusions. MBSR appears to facilitate psychosocial adjustment in BrCA patients receiving radiotherapy, suggesting applicability for MBSR as adjunctive therapy in oncological practice.