Contemplative self healing in women breast cancer survivors: a pilot study in underserved minority women shows improvement in quality of life and reduced stress

Charlson, Mary; Loizzo, Joseph; Moadel, Alyson; Neale, Miles; Newman, Chayim; Olivo, Erin; Wolf, Emily; Peterson, Janey

Background: Among underserved, largely minority women who were breast cancer survivors, this pilot project was designed to evaluate the quality of life outcomes of a 20 week Contemplative Self-Healing Program. Methods: Women previously treated for stage I-III breast cancer were assessed before and after the 20 week program with the FACT-G, FACT-B, FACIT-Spirituality, ECOG, and the Impact of Events Scale. They participated in a 20-week intervention involving guided meditation and cognitive-affective-behavioral learning. Results: With an average age of 63, 62% of the participants were African-American or Latino. With an average of 5.4 years since the diagnosis of breast cancer, 72% had an ECOG performance status of 1. 57% were currently working. Their baseline FACT-G was 80.5 ± 15.1, and their baseline Impact of Events Scale was 26.3 ± 18.9. The within-patient improvement on the FACT-G was 4.6 ± 10.9 (p = .01); in parallel the FACT-B improved by 2.8 ± 12.8 points (p = .03). The Impact of Events Scale improved by 6.6 ± 15.5 points (p = .01). There was significant within-patient improvement on both the avoidance scale (3.8 ± 9.2) and on the intrusion scale (2.9 ± 7.9). Patients who attended more sessions and conducted more home practice had greater improvements in quality of life. Conclusion: Persons receiving a 20-session contemplative self healing intervention showed improved quality of life, with a clinically and statistically significant increase in the FACT-G. In addition, this population showed a significant reduction in post-traumatic stress symptoms assessed by the Impact of Events Scale. Trial registration: Clinical Trials Gov NCT00278837.


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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine

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Academic Units
Clinical Psychology
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October 3, 2014