Objective: The objective of this study was to assess the effects of participation in a mindfulness meditation–based stress reduction program on mood disturbance and symptoms of stress in cancer outpatients.
Methods: A randomized, wait-list controlled design was used. A convenience sample of eligible cancer patients enrolled after giving informed consent and were randomly assigned to either an immediate treatment condition or a wait-list control condition. Patients completed the Profile of Mood States and the Symptoms of Stress Inventory both before and after the intervention. The intervention consisted of a weekly meditation group lasting 1.5 hours for 7 weeks plus home meditation practice.
Results: Ninety patients (mean age, 51 years) completed the study. The group was heterogeneous in type and stage of cancer. Patients’ mean preintervention scores on dependent measures were equivalent between groups. After the intervention, patients in the treatment group had significantly lower scores on Total Mood Disturbance and subscales of Depression, Anxiety, Anger, and Confusion and more Vigor than control subjects. The treatment group also had fewer overall Symptoms of Stress; fewer Cardiopulmonary and Gastrointestinal symptoms; less Emotional Irritability, Depression, and Cognitive Disorganization; and fewer Habitual Patterns of stress. Overall reduction in Total Mood Disturbance was 65%, with a 31% reduction in Symptoms of Stress.
Conclusions: This program was effective in decreasing mood disturbance and stress symptoms in both male and female patients with a wide variety of cancer diagnoses, stages of illness, and ages.