Objective: To assess the impact of an 8-week structured mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) program on individuals experiencing distress as a consequence of cancer.
Design, setting and participants: Prospective study of 16 participants with a history of cancer and five carers of people with cancer recruited from August 2008 to February 2009 through calls to the Cancer Council South Australia Helpline. Participants were assessed for anxiety and depression before and after undergoing a course in MBCT between 30 September and 18 November 2008 and 20 February and 10 April 2009.
Main outcome measures: Depression, anxiety and mindfulness as measured by the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II), State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), and Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory (FMI), respectively, and a consumer-centred evaluation.
Results: There were significant reductions in depression (F[1,24] = 6.37; P = 0.012; partial-eta2 = 0.27) and anxiety (F[2,34] = 9.43; P = 0.001, partial-eta2 = 0.36) and mindfulness (F[2,32] = 8.36; P = 0.001; partial-eta2 = 0.34) following the intervention, and these effects were sustained at the 3-month follow-up. Reliable change indices further support these findings. Participants' scores on measures of depression and anxiety decreased as a function of increased mindfulness, as reflected by significant (P < 0.05) negative correlations between FMI scores and BDI-II scores (ranging from r = -0.46 to r = -0.79) and STAI scores (ranging from r = -0.46 to r = -0.50) scores at all time points.
Conclusion: The MBCT program appears to be an efficacious intervention for use among people affected by cancer who also experience symptoms of depression and anxiety.