The effects of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction program on mood and symptoms of stress in cancer outpatients: 6-month follow-up
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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. This program was effective in decreasing mood disturbance and stress symptoms for up to 6 months in both male and female patients with a wide variety of cancer diagnoses, stages of illness, and educational background, and with disparate ages.
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