A randomized pilot study of mindfulness-based stress reduction in a young adult cancer sample: Feasibility, acceptability, and changes in patient reported outcomes

Psychooncology. 2020 May;29(5):841-850. doi: 10.1002/pon.5355. Epub 2020 Feb 25.


Background: The primary purpose of this study was to examine the feasibility and acceptability of participation in a randomized waitlist-controlled intervention of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) in a young adult cancer sample. A secondary aim was to examine patterns of change in patient reported outcomes (PROs) of physical, social, and emotional functioning.

Methods: Participants were enrolled at a large Midwestern comprehensive cancer center and randomized to MBSR or a waitlist control. Feasibility and acceptability were examined through enrollment metrics and a survey. PROs were gathered at baseline, 8-weeks, and 16-weeks. Descriptive statistics and mixed models were used in analyses.

Results: Of 597 eligible participants, 151 (26.5%) consented from which 126 (83.4%) completed baseline measures. Sixty-seven participants were randomized to MBSR, and 59 to the waitlist. Immediately following MBSR, the majority of respondents (72%-78%) reported their experience with mindfulness was very logical and useful to increasing their wellbeing. Compared to waitlist members, MBSR participant's scores on PROs improved in expected directions.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that recruitment for an intensive, in-person, multi-week supportive intervention can be challenging with young adults with cancer, similar to other cancer survivor populations; however once enrolled, feasibility and acceptability of MBSR was supported. Further, initial evidence on the role of MBSR on short-term changes in select PROs with this population was also demonstrated.

Keywords: feasibility; mindfulness; oncology; randomized controlled trail; young adults.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Disease Management
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meditation / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mindfulness / methods*
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Waiting Lists
  • Young Adult