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Psychotherapeutic interventions containing training in mindfulness meditation have been shown to help participants with a variety of somatic and psychological conditions. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a meditation-based psychotherapeutic intervention designed to help reduce the risk of relapse of recurrent depression. There is encouraging early evidence from multi-centre randomized controlled trials. However, little is known of the process by which MBCT may bring therapeutic benefits. This study set out to explore participants' accounts of MBCT in the mental-health context. Seven participants were interviewed in two phases. Interview data from four participants were obtained in the weeks following MBCT. Grounded theory techniques were used to identify several categories that combine to describe the ways in which mental-health difficulties arose as well as their experiences of MBCT. Three further participants who have continued to practise MBCT were interviewed so as to further validate, elucidate and extend these categories. The theory suggested that the preconceptions and expectations of therapy are important influences on later experiences of MBCT. Important areas of therapeutic change ('coming to terms') were identified, including the development of mindfulness skills, an attitude of acceptance and 'living in the moment'. The development of mindfulness skills was seen to hold a key role in the development of change. Generalization of these skills to everyday life was seen as important, and several ways in which this happened, including the use of breathing spaces, were discussed. The study emphasized the role of continued skills practice for participants' therapeutic gains. In addition, several of the concepts and categories offered support to cognitive accounts of mood disorder and the role of MBCT in reducing relapse.
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Objectives: Considerable morbidity persists among survivors of breast cancer (BC) including high levels of psychological stress, anxiety, depression, fear of recurrence, and physical symptoms including pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbances, and impaired quality of life. Effective interventions are needed during this difficult transitional period. Methods: We conducted a randomized controlled trial of 84 female BC survivors (Stages 0–III) recruited from the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer and Research Institute. All subjects were within 18 months of treatment completion with surgery and adjuvant radiation and/or chemotherapy. Subjects were randomly assigned to a 6-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program designed to self-regulate arousal to stressful circumstances or symptoms (n=41) or to usual care (n=43). Outcome measures compared at 6 weeks by random assignment included validated measures of psychological status (depression, anxiety, perceived stress, fear of recurrence, optimism, social support) and psychological and physical subscales of quality of life (SF-36). Results: Compared with usual care, subjects assigned to MBSR(BC) had significantly lower (two-sided p<0.05) adjusted mean levels of depression (6.3 vs 9.6), anxiety (28.3 vs 33.0), and fear of recurrence (9.3 vs 11.6) at 6 weeks, along with higher energy (53.5 vs 49.2), physical functioning (50.1 vs 47.0), and physical role functioning (49.1 vs 42.8). In stratified analyses, subjects more compliant with MBSR tended to experience greater improvements in measures of energy and physical functioning. Conclusions: Among BC survivors within 18 months of treatment completion, a 6-week MBSR(BC) program resulted in significant improvements in psychological status and quality of life compared with usual care. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

This study explores two conflictingmodels of how patients experience mind-bodytherapies; these models frame the design of aclinical trial examining the effects of qigong (a traditional Chinese movementtherapy) on the immune systems of former cancerpatients. Data consist of ethnographic researchand in-depth interviews conducted at the Bostonteaching hospital where the trial is to takeplace. These interviews, with biomedicalresearchers who designed the trial and with theqigong master responsible for the qigong arm of the trial, reveal twofundamentally different understandings of howqigong is experienced and how thatexperience may be beneficial. The biomedicalteam sees qigong as a non-specifictherapy which combines relaxation and exercise. The qigong master, on the other hand,sees qigong as using specific movementsand visualizations to direct mental attentionto specific areas of the body. Thus while thebiomedical team frames qigong as a“mind-body” practice, the qigong masterframes it as a “mind-in-body” practice. This research suggests that the biomedicalnotion that mind-body therapies work byeliciting mental relaxation is only one way ofthinking about how patients experiencemodalities like qigong: indeed,characterizations of mind-body therapies whichemphasize a mental sense of relaxation may bespecific to biomedicine and the cultures whichsurround it. More broadly, the paper arguesthat gaps in understanding between researchersand practitioners may be hindering scientificefforts to assess therapies like qigong.It concludes by proposing that clinical trialsof traditional and alternative therapies buildethnographic inquiry about practitionerexperience into the design process.
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