Background: Older breast cancer survivors (BCSs) are at risk for late and long-term treatment effects on quality of life (QOL), including lower physical functioning and fear of recurrence. Two promising approaches to address this include dance/movement therapy and mindfulness.
Objective: The purpose of this 2-group randomized controlled pilot feasibility study was to test short-term effects of a 12-week Mindful Movement Program (MMP) intervention combining mindfulness with self-directed movement on QOL and mindfulness in female BCSs 50 years or older and at 12 months or more following treatment.
Methods: Consented participants were randomized to an experimental group (EG) (12 weekly MMP sessions) or a control group (no sessions). All completed questionnaires 3 times. The EG participants kept home practice diaries. Analysis was conducted after intervention for immediate effects on outcome variables and 6 weeks later for maintenance of effects.
Results: Participants (n = 49) ranged in age from 50 to 90 years (average, 65.6 years) and were at 9.8 years since diagnosis (range, 1-32 years), and the majority were white, unpartnered, and retired. After intervention, EG participants showed improved QOL via decreased fear of recurrence and increased mindfulness attitude. At 6 weeks, initial effects were retained.
Conclusions: The MMP appears to benefit older BCSs by reducing fear of recurrence and improving mindfulness attitude. Although these findings are promising, a larger study is needed to determine more specifically what short- and long-term effects are possible.
Implications for practice: The combination of self-directed movement and mindfulness, as tested here, may be a valuable tool for promoting health and well-being in older long-term survivors of breast cancer.