Introduction: A growing number of psychosocial interventions are being offered to cancer patients during and after their medical treatment. Here, we examined whether Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), a stress management course, helps women to cope better with stress and illness once their breast cancer treatment is completed. Our aim was to understand how MBSR may benefit those who participate in the course.
Methods: Our cohort study enrolled 59 women in an 8-week MBSR program. They completed "before and after" questionnaires pertaining to outcomes (stress, depression, medical symptoms) and process variables (mindfulness, coping with illness, sense of coherence). Paired t-tests examined changes from before to after the MBSR course. Changes in mindfulness were correlated with changes in post-MBSR variables, and a regression analysis examined which variables contributed to a reduction in stress after program participation.
Results: Adherence to the program was 91%. Participants reported significant reductions in stress (p < 0.0001), depression (p < 0.0001), and medical symptoms (p < 0.0001), and significant improvements in mindfulness (p < 0.0001), coping with illness (p < 0.0001), and sense of coherence (p < 0.0001). Changes in mindfulness were significantly related to changes in depression, stress, emotional coping, and sense of coherence. Increases in mindfulness and sense of coherence predicted reductions in stress.
Conclusions: It appears that learning how to be mindful is beneficial for women after their treatment for breast cancer.
Keywords: Stress management; breast cancer; mbsr; meditation.