Mindfulness Programming Improves Sleep Quality, Stress Reduction in Survivors and Caregivers

January 15, 2020

Researchers indicated that this sort of non-pharmaceutical programming is warranted to enhance quality of life as the cancer population continues to grow.

A study published in OBM Neurobiology suggested that psychosocial continued care, such as mindfulness programming, may enhance sleep quality, perceived stress, and resilience for those living with the impact of a cancer diagnosis.1

As the number of survivors and caregivers increases, non-pharmaceutical programming like Mindfulness in Motion (MIM) is warranted to enhance quality of life and support this population, according to the authors. 

MIM is a mindfulness-based intervention that previously demonstrated significant biologic and positive psychosocial outcomes with adult working populations. In this study, researchers utilized MIM to assess sleep, resilience, and perceived stress in survivors and caregivers across all stages and various types of cancer. 

“The findings of this pilot study will be valuable in refining the intervention and planning a larger randomized controlled trial,” lead author Maryanna Klatt, a professor in the Department of Family Medicine at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, said in a press release.2 “We plan to film and disseminate, via video, the Mindfulness in Motion intervention for cancer survivors so that survivors who live varying distances from academic medical centers could have access to the program.” 

In this cohort of 20 cancer survivors and 5 caregivers, participants attended 1-hour group meetings once a week and individually performed prerecorded mindfulness meditations accompanied by music and gentle yoga movements daily across an 8-week period. Significant improvements were seen in sleep quality (P < 0.01), resilience (= 0.016), and perceived stress (P < 0.01), with participants noting the importance of having a mixed group of both survivors and caregivers in the group intervention. Additionally, the majority of patients found the components of the intervention very helpful and expressed satisfaction with the program.

“This marks the first time the Mindfulness in Motion program has been tested in cancer survivors and their caregivers, and these findings support this mindfulness intervention as feasible and well-accepted,” Klatt said. 

Participants reported that they most benefited from the group dynamics from the program, as well as from the information provided. Studies have previously evidenced psychosocial support as central to reducing cancer-related distress, finding MBIs to be particularly effective for worry, which could be a significant inhibitor of sleep quality. In qualitative reflective commentary collected, all aspects of the intervention were rated by participants at least an 8.3 out of 10, with 10 being “very useful.” 

Additionally, survivors expressed most wanting more lifestyle information during their weekly sessions, indicating that cancer survivors are open to learning more about living with cancer and could benefit from programs that provide this information in a clinical setting. Research has also shown mindfulness interventions to be effective for not only managing symptom burden, but also in affecting various health behaviors, including eating and smoking. 

“This demonstrates that an intervention like MIM could be doubly effective for cancer survivors by providing an avenue for health behavior change to a group that is open, and ripe, to make such changes,” the authors wrote. 

Randomized controlled trials comparing MIM with usual care and MIM with the longer mindfulness-based stress reduction are needed to establish the value of this care in affecting resilient cancer survivorship and overall sleep quality garnered via MIM, according to researchers.

References:

1. Klatt MD, Wise E, Gabram O, Huber M, Wei L, Katz M. Exploring Quality of Sleep, Perceived Stress and Resilience in Cancer Survivorship: A Feasibility Study of Mindfulness in Motion. OBM Neurobiology. doi:10.21926/obm.neurobiol.1904047.

2. Study: Mindfulness Improves Sleep, Reduces Stress in Cancer Survivors, Caregivers [news release]. Columbus, Ohio. Published December 20, 2019. wexnermedical.osu.edu/mediaroom/pressreleaselisting/study-mindfulness-improves-sleep-reduces-stress-in-cancer-survivors-caregivers. Accessed January 14, 2020.