Greater Mindfulness Associated With Lower Pain, Fatigue, and Psychological Distress in Women with Metastatic Breast Cancer.

Author: Zimmaro LA1, Carson JW2, Olsen MK3, Sanders LL4, Keefe FJ5, Porter LS5
1Cancer Prevention and Control Program, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA.
2Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine, Oregon Health and Sciences University, Portland, OR.
3Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care, Durham VA Medical Center, Durham, NC.
4Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC.
5Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC.
Conference/Journal: Psychooncology.
Date published: 2019 Sep 11
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1002/pon.5223. [Epub ahead of print] , Word Count: 255

OBJECTIVE: Women with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) report high levels of disease-related symptoms including pain, fatigue, psychological distress, and sleep disturbance. Mindfulness may be particularly relevant to women with MBC given the high symptom burden and psychological toll of this disease; however, the topic is understudied among this patient population. Therefore, we aimed to test the associations between mindfulness and patient-reported symptoms among a sample of women with MBC.

METHODS: 64 women with MBC completed baseline questionnaires of mindfulness (FFMQ-SF) and symptoms of pain severity and interference, fatigue, psychological distress, and sleep disturbance as part of a randomized controlled trial of a Mindful Yoga intervention. Correlational analyses of data collected at baseline tested associations between the five mindfulness facets (observing, describing, acting with awareness, nonjudging, nonreactivity) and patient-reported measures of symptoms.

RESULTS: Overall, higher mindfulness was associated with lower symptom levels including lower pain severity, pain interference, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbance. However, degree of association varied by mindfulness facet. Nonreactivity, nonjudging, and describing showed the most frequent associations and largest effect sizes across symptoms, while observing showed the least frequent associations and lowest effect sizes.

CONCLUSIONS: Mindfulness - and in particular nonreactivity, nonjudging, and describing - may be a personal resource for women with MBC in coping with complex symptoms of this life-threatening illness. Findings are discussed relative to their implications for interventions aimed at increasing mindfulness in this vulnerable population.

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KEYWORDS: anxiety; cancer; depression; fatigue; metastatic breast cancer; mindfulness; pain; sleep

PMID: 31509614 DOI: 10.1002/pon.5223