A non-randomized comparison of mindfulness-based stress reduction and healing arts programs for facilitating post-traumatic growth and spirituality in cancer outpatients


Goals of work

The aim of this study was to compare a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program and a healing through the creative arts (HA) program on measures of post-traumatic growth (PTGI-R), spirituality (FACIT-Sp), stress (SOSI), and mood disturbance (POMS) in cancer patients.

Materials and methods

A sample of cancer outpatients (MBSR, n = 60; HA, n = 44) with a variety of diagnoses chose to attend either an 8-week MBSR program or a 6-week HA program and were assessed pre- and post-intervention. The majority of participants were female, married, and had breast cancer.

Main results

Repeated measures analysis of variance indicated that participants in both groups improved significantly over time on overall post-traumatic growth (p = 0.015). Participants in the MBSR group improved on measures of spirituality more than those in the HA group (p = 0.029). Participants in the MBSR group also showed more improvement than those in HA on measures of anxiety (POMS, p = 0.038), anger (POMS, p = 0.004), overall stress symptoms (SOSI, p = 0.041), and mood disturbance (POMS, p = 0.023). Several main effects of time were also observed in both groups. These results were found despite attrition in both groups.


Both programs may improve facilitation of positive growth after traumatic life experiences for those who choose to participate. MBSR may be more helpful than HA in enhancing spirituality and reducing stress, depression, and anger.

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Dr. Linda Carlson is supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research New Investigator Award. We would like to thank the participants in these groups and their continued involvement in our programs and research.

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Correspondence to Linda E. Carlson.

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Garland, S.N., Carlson, L.E., Cook, S. et al. A non-randomized comparison of mindfulness-based stress reduction and healing arts programs for facilitating post-traumatic growth and spirituality in cancer outpatients. Support Care Cancer 15, 949–961 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-007-0280-5

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  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction
  • Meditation
  • Creative therapy
  • Post-traumatic growth
  • Spirituality
  • Cancer