That may be because mindfulness-based meditation focuses on the present moment and the connection between the mind and body, according to researchers at the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine children’s hospital.
Teens diagnosed with cancer face not only the physical symptoms of their condition, but also the anxiety and uncertainty related to the progression of the disease, according to the researchers.
They also must live with the anticipation of physical and emotional pain related to illness and treatment, the significant changes implied in living with cancer, as well as the fear of recurrence after remission, researchers noted.
For the clinical trial, the researchers asked 13 teens with cancer to complete questionnaires covering mood — positive and negative emotions, anxiety and depression — sleep and quality of life.
The group was then divided in two: The first group of eight teens was offered eight mindfulness-based meditation sessions, while the remaining five were put on a wait-list, creating a control group.
The eight meditation sessions were 90 minutes long and took place weekly. After the last session, patients from both groups filled out the same questionnaires a second time.
“We analyzed differences in mood, sleep, and quality of life scores for each participant and then between each group to evaluate if mindfulness sessions had a greater impact than the simple passage of time,” said Dr. Catherine Malboeuf-Hurtubise of the university’s Department of Psychology.
“We found that teenagers that participated in the mindfulness group had lower scores in depression after our eight sessions. Girls from the mindfulness group reported sleeping better. We also noticed that they developed mindfulness skills to a greater extent than boys during the sessions.”
The results suggest that mindfulness sessions could be helpful in improving mood and sleep in teenagers with cancer, as previous oncology research suggests with adults, she added.
According to the researchers, differences between the two groups were not large enough to assign observed benefits solely to the mindfulness component of the sessions.
“The social support provided to the adolescents in the mindfulness group could possibly explain observed benefits on mood and sleep,” Malboeuf-Hurtubise said.
“Nonetheless, mindfulness-based interventions for teenagers with cancer appear as a promising option to lighten psychological inconveniences of living with cancer.”
The researchers intend to offer members of the control group an opportunity to take the meditation sessions, she added.
Source: University of Montreal