Mindfulness after cancer treatment
The impact of a mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) for adolescents and young adults after cancer treatment on psychosocial parameters: an exploratory study (Boost Your Mind).
- Blood cancer
- Solid tumour
Why this trial?
Adolescent and young adult cancer (AYAC) survivors experience more complex, more severe and longer-lasting emotional distress than children or adults with similar diagnoses. Besides dealing with the consequences of their illnesses and treatments, puberty also complicates AYAC survivors’ lives. The depression, anxiety, or other forms of distress they experience often become worse years after cancer treatment has ended. However, the psychosocial needs of these patients have remained largely unmet. Research concerning AYAC survivors focussing on symptom management after treatment has ended is scarce and more age-appropriate interventions were needed.
Why this drug?
The origin of mindfulness (an intervention - not a drug) lies in Buddhism, growing from the philosophy that worrying about the past and the future leads to distress. In recent years, research has explored the effects of mindfulness training on young adults. A study of more than 400 adolescents in Flemish schools revealed that young adults who had followed mindfulness training scored better psychologically, and that these improvements were visible even 6 months after the end of the training sessions. Furthermore, mindfulness did not only help prevent mental health problems, but also alleviated psychological problems.
In this exploratory trial, 4 Belgian centres recruited 16 AYAC survivors, aged 14 to 24, who had completed cancer treatment. After 2 baseline assessments, patients followed an 8-week mindfulness training course. Patients were evaluated twice: at one week and three months after mindfulness training. The primary objective was to improve quality of life and reduce symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety.
Multilevel modelling showed (1) a significant reduction in emotional distress and improvement in quality of life at 3 months of follow-up, (2) a significant reduction in negative attitudes toward self (i.e., a cognitive vulnerability factor), and (3) a significant improvement in mindfulness skills. Mindfulness-based intervention is a promising approach that is used to treat emotional distress and to improve quality of life in AYAC survivors. Further research using randomised controlled trials is needed to generalise these findings.
- Kathleen Van der Gucht, Department of Clinical Psychology, Catholic University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
- University Hospital of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
- Inge De Leeuw, trainer MINDaWARE Foundation
Van der Gucht, K.; Takano, K.; Labarque, V.; Vandenabeele, K.; Nolf, N.; Kuylen, S.; Cosyns, V.; Van Broeck, N.; Kuppens, P.; Raes, F. A Mindfulness-Based Intervention for Adolescents and Young Adults After Cancer Treatment: Effects on Quality of Life, Emotional Distress, and Cognitive Vulnerability. Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology. 2016 Dec 21.