Mindful movement program for older breast cancer survivors: a pilot study

Cancer Nurs. Jul-Aug 2012;35(4):E1-13. doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e3182280f73.


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.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Community-Based Participatory Research
  • Dance Therapy*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mind-Body Therapies*
  • Movement
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Pilot Projects
  • Program Evaluation
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Treatment Outcome