Exploring Cancer Patients' Experiences of an Online Mindfulness-Based Program: A Qualitative Investigation

Mindfulness (N Y). 2020;11(7):1666-1677. doi: 10.1007/s12671-020-01380-z. Epub 2020 Apr 27.


Objective: Chronic neuropathic pain (CNP) is a common condition cancer survivors experience. Mindfulness training may be one approach to address the psychosocial factors associated with CNP. The purpose of this study was to understand patients' experiences in an 8-week online mindfulness-based program (MBP), including techniques and skills learned and applied, barriers to practice, and research experiences.

Methods: Nineteen participants who were part of a randomized controlled trial consented to participate in a telephone interview or submit written responses via email post-course. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using the principles of Applied Thematic Analysis (ATA).

Results: Predominant themes identified in participant interviews included (1) common humanity, (2) convenience, (3) teacher resonance, (4) perceived relaxation and calm, (5) pain and stress management, (6) half-day session, and (7) mindful breathing. Participants also identified helpful strategies learned and implemented from the course, as well as barriers to practice, and key components of their experiences in a randomized controlled trial, including a sense of disconnection post-course and needing continued ongoing sessions, and the importance of the facilitators' skills in creating a comfortable and supportive space.

Conclusions: An online group-based MBP may offer a more accessible resource and form of psychosocial intervention and support for cancer survivors living with CNP. Furthermore, the need and consideration for implementing ongoing group maintenance sessions to minimize participants' feelings of disconnect and abandonment post-course and post-study are warranted in future MBP development.

Keywords: Chronic pain; Mindfulness; Online MBP; Qualitative research.