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Research project: Understanding and perceptions of mindfulness-based interventions and development of an adapted mindfulness intervention for breast cancer patients

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  Aims This study aims to explore patients with breast cancer understanding and perceptions of mindfulness-based interventions, and design and begin development of an adapted mindfulness intervention for this group.    

Living with breast cancer causes considerable psychological and physical suffering. Between 24-89% of patients with early breast cancer experience significant distress often from a fear of recurrence of the cancer which may persist long after the initial diagnosis. For patients with advanced breast cancer anxiety and thoughts concerning the timing and mode of their death can lead up to 30% to experience clinically significant distress.   Psychological interventions such as mindfulness meditation can benefit women at all stages of BC.  Mindfulness involves learning techniques that enable people to focus on the moment increasing the ability to manage difficult experiences and feelings. Mindfulness courses generally consist of an 8-week group-based course that can be difficult for patients to commit to especially if they are working, have children and have hospital visits.

The aim of this study is to explore the format and content of a mindfulness intervention in the context of breast cancer and to develop an adapted mindfulness course. It has the following objectives:

  • To identify the understanding of and interest in mindfulness based interventions in BC patients.
  • To identify the perceived barriers to and benefits of participation in an intervention.
  • To identify what adaptations to the standard mindfulness intervention are needed to optimise its appeal.
  • To design and begin development of an adapted mindfulness based intervention suitable for BC patients in readiness for feasibility testing.

It will take place in two stages. Eligible women with a range of ages and stages of breast cancer will be purposively sampled and recruited from a local oncology unit. In stage 1 we will conduct focus groups and interviews with BC patients to elicit understanding of and interest in mindfulness meditation interventions and this will provide an opportunity to understand patient preferences and needs. Focus groups will allow participants to share and generate views on the topic. Constant comparison within and between interviews and focus groups will aid analysis and the development of codes and themes. Stage 2 will involve designing and developing the adapted mindfulness meditation intervention in partnership with BC patients using “think aloud” interviews and with mindfulness intervention experts.

The design of the adapted mindfulness intervention will consider the unique characteristics and needs of breast cancer patients, and may involve reducing the traditional 8-week course and introducing a home-based component which could involve internet/web based materials, smartphone technology and/or CDs/DVDs.



Breast Cancer Campaign

Project team

Host department is Primary Care and Population Sciences in Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton

PI Dr Caroline Eyles

Dr Geraldine Leydon, University of Southampton

Prof George Lewith, University of Southampton

Dr Deborah Fenlon, University of Southampton

Dr Ellen Copson, University of Southampton

Dr Caroline Hoffman, Breast Cancer Haven

Dr Claire Foster, University of Southampton

Dr Adam Geraghty, University of Southampton 

Dr Gail Davies, Mindfulness at Work Ltd

Mrs Lesley Turner, PPI representative

Prof Alison Richardson, University of Southampton

Mr Sam Watts, University of Southampton


Related research groups

Complex Healthcare Processes
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