Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 131, Issue 1, pp 99–109 | Cite as

The effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on psychosocial outcomes and quality of life in early-stage breast cancer patients: a randomized trial

  • Virginia P. Henderson
  • Lynn Clemow
  • Ann O. Massion
  • Thomas G. Hurley
  • Susan Druker
  • James R. Hébert
Clinical Trial


The aim of this study was determine the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based stress-reduction (MBSR) program on quality of life (QOL) and psychosocial outcomes in women with early-stage breast cancer, using a three-arm randomized controlled clinical trial (RCT). This RCT consisting of 172 women, aged 20–65 with stage I or II breast cancer consisted of the 8-week MBSR, which was compared to a nutrition education program (NEP) and usual supportive care (UC). Follow-up was performed at three post-intervention points: 4 months, 1, and 2 years. Standardized, validated self-administered questionnaires were adopted to assess psychosocial variables. Statistical analysis included descriptive and regression analyses incorporating both intention-to-treat and post hoc multivariable approaches of the 163 women with complete data at baseline, those who were randomized to MBSR experienced a significant improvement in the primary measures of QOL and coping outcomes compared to the NEP, UC, or both, including the spirituality subscale of the FACT-B as well as dealing with illness scale increases in active behavioral coping and active cognitive coping. Secondary outcome improvements resulting in significant between-group contrasts favoring the MBSR group at 4 months included meaningfulness, depression, paranoid ideation, hostility, anxiety, unhappiness, and emotional control. Results tended to decline at 12 months and even more at 24 months, though at all times, they were as robust in women with lower expectation of effect as in those with higher expectation. The MBSR intervention appears to benefit psychosocial adjustment in cancer patients, over and above the effects of usual care or a credible control condition. The universality of effects across levels of expectation indicates a potential to utilize this stress reduction approach as complementary therapy in oncologic practice.


Mindfulness-based stress reduction program Quality of life Psychosocial factors Expectancy Breast cancer psychosocial intervention 



The BRIDGES Study was funded by grant DAMD17-94-J-4475 from the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. Dr. Massion was supported by a Career Development Award, grant # DAMD17-94-J-4261 from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. Dr. Hébert was supported by the Established Investigator Award in Cancer Prevention and Control K05 CA136975 from the Cancer Training Branch of the National Cancer Institute.

Supplementary material

10549_2011_1738_MOESM1_ESM.doc (222 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 222 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Virginia P. Henderson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lynn Clemow
    • 3
  • Ann O. Massion
    • 4
    • 5
  • Thomas G. Hurley
    • 2
    • 6
  • Susan Druker
    • 7
  • James R. Hébert
    • 1
    • 2
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine University of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Cancer Prevention & Control ProgramUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  3. 3.Department of MedicineColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of New Mexico School of MedicineAlbuquerqueUSA
  5. 5.Behavioral Health Care LineNew Mexico VA Health Care SystemAlbuquerqueUSA
  6. 6.Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Arnold School of Public HealthUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  7. 7.Division of Preventive and Behavioral MedicineUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA

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