Examination of Broad Symptom Improvement Resulting From Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Breast Cancer Survivors

Lengacher, C.A. et al. (2016). Journal of Clinical Oncology. vol. 34(24). pp. 2827-2834

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Purpose :The purpose of this randomized trial was to evaluate the efficacy of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Breast Cancer (MBSR[BC]) program in improving psychological and physical symptoms and quality of life among breast cancer survivors (BCSs) who completed treatment. Outcomes were assessed immediately after 6 weeks of MBSR(BC) training and 6 weeks later to test efficacy over an extended timeframe.

Patients and Methods: A total of 322 BCSs were randomly assigned to either a 6-week MBSR(BC) program (n = 155) or a usual care group (n = 167). Psychological (depression, anxiety, stress, and fear of recurrence) and physical symptoms (fatigue and pain) and quality of life (as related to health) were assessed at baseline and at 6 and 12 weeks. Linear mixed models were used to assess MBSR(BC) effects over time, and participant characteristics at baseline were also tested as moderators of MBSR(BC) effects.

Results :Results demonstrated extended improvement for the MBSR(BC) group compared with usual care in both psychological symptoms of anxiety, fear of recurrence overall, and fear of recurrence problems and physical symptoms of fatigue severity and fatigue interference (P < .01). Overall effect sizes were largest for fear of recurrence problems (d = 0.35) and fatigue severity (d = 0.27). Moderation effects showed BCSs with the highest levels of stress at baseline experienced the greatest benefit from MBSR(BC).

Conclusion :The MBSR(BC) program significantly improved a broad range of symptoms among BCSs up to 6 weeks after MBSR(BC) training, with generally small to moderate overall effect sizes.

Read the abstract here

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