Mindfulness-based recovery for distressed survivors of breast cancer

Despite growing evidence in support of mindfulness as an underlying mechanism of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs), it has been suggested that nonspecific therapeutic factors, such as the experience of social support, may contribute to the positive effects of MBIs.

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In the present study, we examined whether change in mindfulness and/or social support mediated the effect of Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery (MBCR) compared to another active intervention (i.e. Supportive Expressive Group Therapy (SET)), on change in mood disturbance, stress symptoms and quality of life. A secondary analysis was conducted of a multi-site randomized clinical trial investigating the impacts of MBCR and SET on distressed breast cancer survivors (MINDSET).

Findings showed that increased social support was related to more improvement in mood and stress after MBCR compared to support groups, whereas changes in mindfulness were not. This suggests a more important role for social support in enhancing outcomes in MBCR than previously thought.

Full reference: Schellekens, M.P.J. et al. (2017) Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery (MBCR) versus Supportive Expressive Group Therapy (SET) for distressed breast cancer survivors: evaluating mindfulness and social support as mediators. Journal of Behavioral Medicine. 40(3) pp. 414–422

Mindfulness-based stress reduction for breast cancer patients

A mixed method study on what patients experience as a suitable stage to participate | Supportive Care in Cancer

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Purpose: Breast cancer is associated with high levels of psychological distress. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) has proven to be effective in reducing distress in cancer patients. In several studies, patients who are currently undergoing somatic anticancer treatment are excluded from participating in MBSR. Little is known about what would be the most suitable stage of disease to offer MBSR. We examined whether stage of disease facilitated and/or hindered participation in MBSR for breast cancer patients.

Conclusions: In contrast to the common practice to tailoring the timing of MBSR to physical impairments or demands of the anticancer treatment, our findings revealed that emotional readiness is equally important to take into account. These findings might support professionals in their choices whether and when to inform and refer patients to MBSR.

Full reference: Bisseling, E.M., Schellekens, M.P., Jansen, E.T. et al. (2017) Mindfulness-based stress reduction for breast cancer patients: a mixed method study on what patients experience as a suitable stage to participate. Support Care Cancer.  doi:10.1007/s00520-017-3714-8

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction as a Stress Management Intervention for Cancer Care

Rush, S.E. et al. (2017) Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine. 22(2)

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Cancer is acknowledged as a source of stress for many individuals, often leading to suffering, which can be long-lasting. Mindfulness-based stress reduction offers an effective way of reducing stress among cancer patients by combining mindfulness meditation and yoga in an 8-week training program.

The purpose of this study was to inspect studies from October 2009 to November 2015 and examine whether mindfulness-based stress reduction can be utilized as a viable method for managing stress among cancer patients. A systematic search from Medline, CINAHL, and Alt HealthWatch databases was conducted for quantitative articles involving mindfulness-based stress reduction interventions targeting cancer patients.

A total of 13 articles met the inclusion criteria. Of these 13 studies, 9 demonstrated positive changes in either psychological or physiological outcomes related to anxiety and/or stress, with 4 describing mixed results. Despite the limitations, mindfulness-based stress reduction appears to be promising for stress management among cancer patients.

Read the full article here

Individualised mindfulness-based stress reduction for head and neck cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy

Pollard, A. et al. (2017) European Journal of Cancer Care. 26(2)

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Image source: mindfulness – Flickr // CC BY 2.0

People with head and neck cancer (HNC) experience elevated symptom toxicity and co-morbidity as a result of treatment, which is associated with poorer psychosocial and quality-of-life (QoL) outcomes.

This Phase I study examined whether an individualised mindfulness-based stress reduction (IMBSR) programme could be successfully used with HNC patients undergoing curative treatment.

After controlling for pre-intervention mindfulness, there was an association between higher post-intervention mindfulness and lower psychological distress and higher total, social and emotional QoL. This study offers important preliminary evidence than an IMBSR intervention can be administered to HNC patients during active cancer treatment. A randomised controlled trial is warranted to confirm these findings.

Read the full abstract here

Does mindfulness offer any benefit to cancer patients?

A new Australian study of men with advanced prostate cancer, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, suggests mindfulness training offers no benefit in this particular setting | The Conversation

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Image source: Carol Del Angel – Wellcome Images // CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

In cancer, mindfulness-based therapies are often suggested as a supportive care option for patients. Mindfulness as the core component of these two approaches centres around teaching open awareness of the present experience and a focus on behaviour.

The behaviour element encourages the individual to conduct self observation of habits, and to become less reactive to difficult or unpleasant experiences. This is proposed to create a sense of calmness and composure – often referred to as equanimity – about the illness experience.

While mindfulness approaches intuitively seem well matched to the cancer context, to date the research in this area has been limited by variable study quality and a focus on breast cancer patients.

Read the full commentary here

Read the original research article here