, Volume 9, Issue 6, pp 1885–1894 | Cite as

A Pilot Mobile-Based Mindfulness Intervention for Cancer Patients and Their Informal Caregivers

  • Ai KuboEmail author
  • Andrea Altschuler
  • Elaine Kurtovich
  • Sarah Hendlish
  • Cecile A. Laurent
  • Tatjana Kolevska
  • Yan Li
  • Andrew Avins


This 8-week single-arm pilot trial within Kaiser Permanente Northern California tested the feasibility of conducting a mobile app/online-based mindfulness intervention for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and their caregivers. Participants were cancer patients with ≥8 weeks of remaining chemotherapy and their informal caregivers, where neither had a regular meditation practice. Participants were given access to a commercially available mindfulness program, Headspace™, via smartphone or computer and were asked to practice meditation using the program for 10–20 min daily. Data were collected on depression, anxiety, sleep, fatigue, quality of life at baseline and post-intervention using validated instruments. Qualitative telephone interviews gathered data regarding participants’ experience with the intervention. Nineteen patients (68%) and 9 caregivers (60%) completed the study. Approximately 40% of the patients had stage 3 or 4 cancer, and 30% were males and non-whites. Among them, 20 (71%) practiced meditation using the app > 50% of the days during the 8-week study period, and 60% of those individuals practiced > 70% of the days. Preliminary before-after comparison data suggested reduction in levels of distress and improvement in quality of life. In qualitative interviews, participants reported ease in use of the mindfulness program and appreciation for the convenience of accessing the program any time. Our results suggest that an app/online-based mindfulness intervention is feasible and well-accepted by cancer patients and their caregivers within an integrated healthcare system.


Mindfulness Cancer Intervention Chemotherapy Caregivers Quality of life 



We thank participants of the POEM (Practice of Embracing Each Moment) study. This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grant KL2TR000143, K07CA166143) and Kaiser Permanente Planned Giving Fund.

Author Contributions

AK obtained funding, designed and executed the study, assisted with the data analyses, and wrote the paper. AA collaborated on the design of the study, the data analysis, and writing and editing of the final manuscript. EK collaborated on the data analysis and writing and editing of the final manuscript. SH collaborated on the study protocol, recruitment, participant contacts, and the data collection. CL organized and conducted the statistical analyses. TK collaborated on the design and execution of the study. YL collaborated on the design and execution of the study. AA collaborated on the design of the study, the data analysis, and editing of the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The Kaiser Permanente Northern California Institutional Review Board provided IRB approval for the study. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ai Kubo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andrea Altschuler
    • 1
  • Elaine Kurtovich
    • 1
  • Sarah Hendlish
    • 1
  • Cecile A. Laurent
    • 1
  • Tatjana Kolevska
    • 2
  • Yan Li
    • 3
  • Andrew Avins
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Kaiser Permanente Division of ResearchOaklandUSA
  2. 2.Kaiser Permanente Napa/Solano Medical CenterVallejoUSA
  3. 3.Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical CenterOaklandUSA
  4. 4.School of MedicineUniversity of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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