Rapid deployment of virtual mind-body interventions during the COVID-19 outbreak: feasibility, acceptability, and implications for future care

Support Care Cancer. 2021 Feb;29(2):543-546. doi: 10.1007/s00520-020-05740-2. Epub 2020 Sep 9.


Introduction: COVID-19 increased stress levels while reducing access to mind-body services in patients with cancer. We describe the rapid deployment of remotely delivered mind-body services to people with cancer during COVID-19, rates of participation, and acceptability from patients' perspectives.

Methods: Eligible participants were patients with cancer age ≥ 18 years enrolled in a single academic cancer center's online patient portal. Interventions included mind-body group therapy sessions in fitness, meditation, yoga, dance, tai chi, and music delivered using Zoom video conferencing. Sessions were 30-45 min and led by an integrative medicine clinician. Following each session, participants were asked to complete a three-item questionnaire assessing (1) satisfaction with the class session, (2) reduction in stress/anxiety, and (3) likelihood of recommending the class to others. Patients could also provide comments in real-time using the Zoom chat function.

Results: Among 5948 unique visits, the most frequently attended classes were fitness (n = 2513, 42.2%) followed by meditation (n = 1176, 19.8%) and yoga (n = 909, 15.3%). Of these visits, 3902 (65.6%) had an associated completed questionnaire. Across class types, a large majority of participants reported being extremely satisfied (n = 3733, 95.7%), experiencing extreme reductions in anxiety/stress (n = 3268, 83.8%), and being extremely likely to recommend the class to others (n = 3605, 92.4%). Fitness had the highest endorsement among class types (all p values < 0.001). Themes from the chat responses included gratitude, expressions of helpfulness, and feelings of connection.

Conclusion: High utilization of and satisfaction with these virtual mind-body services demonstrate the significant potential of remote delivery to facilitate patient access to services.

Keywords: Cancer; Fitness; Meditation; Stress; Virtual; Yoga.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety
  • COVID-19
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Humans
  • Meditation
  • Mind-Body Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Patient Participation / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tai Ji
  • Telemedicine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Yoga