Research projects

Phase 1 pilot of a mindfulness-based stress reduction intervention for head and neck cancer patients receiving treatment

Principal researchers

Dr Jeremy Couper1
Ms Annabel Pollard1
Professor Dr David Castle2
Associate Professor June Corry1
Associate Professor David Smith 3
Dr Kate Neilson1
Dr Ann Boonzaier1
Professor Tom Trauer2

Institution

1 Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
2 St Vincent’s Hospital
3 RMIT University

Funding

$150,000

Award type

beyondblue Victorian Centre of Excellence

Project completion year

2014

Key messages

  • A novel one-on-one mindfulness intervention for Head and Neck Cancer patients undergoing potentially curative radiotherapy has been shown to be of interest to eligible patients.
  • Feasibility has been demonstrated with excellent adherence of participants to the intervention, although patients with higher treatment side effects are less likely to complete the entire program.
  • Compliance with the program requirements has been demonstrated, with participants meditating regularly outside of sessions. Moreover, patient adherence to meditation practice continues independent of their levels of radiotherapy side effects and pain.
  • Clinicians were able to deliver the intervention with a high degree of fidelity, again independent of patient’s level of radiotherapy side effects and pain.
  • This intervention was found to be generally attractive to eligible HNC patients, with the exception of patients with heavier current alcohol and tobacco use.
  • Finally, the results of this study offer preliminary evidence that the intervention may improve patient’s levels of mindfulness and have positive effects on post-intervention psychological distress and quality-of-life. However, these results need to be confirmed using a further, Phase II study.

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