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The present study is a waitlist-controlled investigation of the impact of a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program on mindful attentiveness, rumination and blood pressure (BP) in women with cancer. Female post-treatment cancer patients were recruited from the MBSR program waitlist. Participants completed self-report measures of mindfulness and rumination and measured casual BP at home before and after the 8-week MBSR program or waiting period. MBSR group participants demonstrated higher levels of mindful attentiveness and decreased ruminative thinking following the intervention but no difference in BP, when compared to controls. In the MBSR group, decreases in rumination correlated with decreases in SBP and increases in mindful attention. When participants were assigned to “Higher BP” and “Lower BP” conditions based on mean BP values at week 1, “Higher BP” participants in the MBSR group (n = 19) had lower SBP at week 8 relative to the control group (n = 16). A MBSR program may be efficacious in increasing mindful attention and decreasing rumination in women with cancer. Randomized controlled trials are needed to evaluate an impact on clinically elevated BP.

ObjectivesThis study investigated the ongoing effects of participation in a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program on quality of life (QL), symptoms of stress, mood and endocrine, immune and autonomic parameters in early stage breast and prostate cancer patients. Methods Forty-nine patients with breast cancer and 10 with prostate cancer enrolled in an eight-week MBSR program that incorporated relaxation, meditation, gentle yoga and daily home practice. Demographic and health behaviors, QL, mood, stress symptoms, salivary cortisol levels, immune cell counts, intracellular cytokine production, blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) were assessed pre- and post-intervention, and at 6- and 12-month follow-up. Results Fifty-nine, 51, 47 and 41 patients were assessed pre- and post-intervention and at 6- and 12-month follow-up, respectively, although not all participants provided data on all outcomes at each time point. Linear mixed modeling showed significant improvements in overall symptoms of stress which were maintained over the follow-up period. Cortisol levels decreased systematically over the course of the follow-up. Immune patterns over the year supported a continued reduction in Th1 (pro-inflammatory) cytokines. Systolic blood pressure (SBP) decreased from pre- to post-intervention and HR was positively associated with self-reported symptoms of stress. Conclusions MBSR program participation was associated with enhanced quality of life and decreased stress symptoms, altered cortisol and immune patterns consistent with less stress and mood disturbance, and decreased blood pressure. These pilot data represent a preliminary investigation of the longer-term relationships between MBSR program participation and a range of potentially important biomarkers.

PURPOSE: A growing number of cancer survivors suffer high levels of distress, depression and stress, as well as sleep disturbance, pain and fatigue. Two different mind-body interventions helpful for treating these problems are Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery (MBCR) and Tai Chi/Qigong (TCQ). However, while both interventions show efficacy compared to usual care, they have never been evaluated in the same study or directly compared. This study will be the first to incorporate innovative design features including patient choice while evaluating two interventions to treat distressed cancer survivors. It will also allow for secondary analyses of which program best targets specific symptoms in particular groups of survivors, based on preferences and baseline characteristics.METHODS AND SIGNIFICANCE: The design is a preference-based multi-site randomized comparative effectiveness trial. Participants (N=600) with a preference for either MBCR or TCQ will receive their preferred intervention; while those without a preference will be randomized into either intervention. Further, within the preference and non-preference groups, participants will be randomized into immediate intervention or wait-list control. Total mood disturbance on the Profile of mood states (POMS) post-intervention is the primary outcome. Other measures taken pre- and post-intervention and at 6-month follow-up include quality of life, psychological functioning, cancer-related symptoms and physical functioning. Exploratory analyses investigate biomarkers (cortisol, cytokines, blood pressure/Heart Rate Variability, telomere length, gene expression), which may uncover potentially important effects on key biological regulatory and antineoplastic functions. Health economic measures will determine potential savings to the health system.