Efficacy of lovingkindness meditation for patients undergoing breast cancer surgery

Wren, A. A., et al. (2019). Preliminary efficacy of a lovingkindness meditation intervention for patients undergoing biopsy and breast cancer surgery: A randomized controlled pilot study. Supportive Care in Cancer, 1-10. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00520-019-4657-z

Conclusions: These findings provide preliminary evidence for the feasibility and efficacy of a lovingkindness meditation intervention for breast cancer patients during the diagnostic and surgical period. Improving psychological and physical well-being during this time frame has the potential to improve longer-term health outcomes during adjuvant treatment and survivorship. Interventions that cultivate positive adjustment during the diagnostic and surgical period of breast cancer are an important area of future research.

Efficacy of a lovingkindness meditation intervention

Wren, A. A., et al. (2019). Preliminary efficacy of a lovingkindness meditation intervention for patients undergoing biopsy and breast cancer surgery: A randomized controlled pilot study. Supportive Care in Cancer, pp. 1-10. From Abstract.

Purpose: Despite more women undergoing treatment for breast cancer and increased survival rates, many women suffer from anxiety and physical symptoms (e.g., pain, fatigue) surrounding diagnosis and surgery. Research investigating the efficacy of psychosocial interventions for breast cancer patients during this period is limited. This randomized controlled pilot study examined the effect of a brief lovingkindness meditation intervention on these key outcomes.

Results: Multilevel modeling analyses demonstrated that lovingkindness meditation significantly improved pain, self-compassion, and heart rate over time compared to control conditions. There was a trend for anxiety. Music significantly improved pain compared to usual care.

Reducing blood pressure and stress

Ponte, P., et al. (2018). Benefits Of Mindfulness Meditation In Reducing Blood Pressure And Stress In Patients With Arterial Hypertension. Journal of Hypertension36, e294-e295.

From the Abstract. The objective of this randomized controlled trial is to evaluate the benefits of mindfulness meditation in controlling ambulatory blood pressure (BP) and the impact of the intervention on anxiety, stress and depression levels in a Mediterranean population.

Twenty-four and 18 patients [n = 42; mean age 56.5 (7.7) years; similar men and women proportions] with high-normal BP or grade I hypertension were enrolled to an intervention and a control group, respectively.

For 2 h/week over 8 weeks, the intervention group received mindfulness training and the control group attended health education talks. The patients attended pre-intervention, week 4, week 8 and week 20 follow-up visits. . . .

Improvements were observed in the intervention group in terms of being less judgemental, more accepting and less depressed. In conclusion, by week 8 the mindfulness group had lower clinically measured SBP, 24-h SBP, at-rest SBP and diastolic BP values.

Meditation and PTSD

Hilton, L., et al. (2017). Meditation for posttraumatic stress: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy9(4), 453. From the Abstract.

Objective: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis that synthesized evidence from randomized controlled trials of meditation interventions to provide estimates of their efficacy and safety in treating adults diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Results: In total, 10 trials on meditation interventions for PTSD with 643 participants met inclusion criteria. Across interventions, adjunctive meditation interventions of mindfulness-based stress reduction, yoga, and the mantram repetition program improve PTSD and depression symptoms compared with control groups, but the findings are based on low and moderate quality of evidence.

Effects were positive but not statistically significant for quality of life and anxiety, and no studies addressed functional status. The variety of meditation intervention types, the short follow-up times, and the quality of studies limited analyses.

Conclusions: Meditation appears to be effective for PTSD and depression symptoms, but in order to increase confidence in findings, more high-quality studies are needed on meditation as adjunctive treatment with PTSD-diagnosed participant samples large enough to detect statistical differences in outcomes.

Mindfulness-based therapy for dyspnea

Mularski, R. A., et al. (2009). Randomized controlled trial of mindfulness-based therapy for dyspnea in chronic obstructive lung disease. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine15(10), 1083-1090, DOI: 10.1089=acm.2009.0037. Full text.

From the Abstract. The objective of this study was to test the efficacy of a mindfulness-based breathing therapy on improving symptoms and health-related quality of life in those with chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD).

This trial found no measurable improvements in patients with COPD receiving a mindfulness-based breathing therapy compared to a support group, suggesting that this intervention is unlikely to be an important therapeutic option for those with moderate-to-severe COPD.

The effect of diaphragmatic breathing

Ma, X., et al. (2017). The effect of diaphragmatic breathing on attention, negative affect and stress in healthy adults. Frontiers in psychology, no. 8, pp. 874, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00874. Full text.

From the Abstract. A growing number of empirical studies have revealed that diaphragmatic breathing may trigger body relaxation responses and benefit both physical and mental health. However, the specific benefits of diaphragmatic breathing on mental health remain largely unknown.

The present study aimed to investigate the effect of diaphragmatic breathing on cognition, affect, and cortisol responses to stress. Forty participants were randomly assigned to either a breathing intervention group (BIG) or a control group (CG). The BIG received intensive training for 20 sessions, implemented over 8 weeks, employing a real-time feedback device, and an average respiratory rate of 4 breaths/min, while the CG did not receive this treatment. . . . 

The findings suggested that the BIG showed a significant decrease in negative affect after intervention, compared to baseline.  . . .  In conclusion, diaphragmatic breathing could improve sustained attention, affect, and cortisol levels.

Reducing burnout in police officers

Trombka, Marcelo, et al., Study protocol of a multicenter randomized controlled trial of mindfulness training to reduce burnout and promote quality of life in police officers. BMC Psychiatry, 2018, vol. 18. no. 151, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-018-1726-7. Full text.

Background. Police officers experience a high degree of chronic stress. Policing ranks among the highest professions in terms of disease and accident rates. Mental health is particularly impacted, evidenced by elevated rates of burnout, anxiety and depression, and poorer quality of life than the general public.

Mindfulness training has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, burnout and promote quality of life in a variety of settings, although its efficacy in this context has yet to be systematically evaluated. Therefore, this trial will investigate the efficacy of a mindfulness-based intervention versus a waitlist control in improving quality of life and reducing negative mental health symptoms in police officers.