Live or Online Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Reduced Cancer-Related Psychological Distress

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Previous studies demonstrated that mindfulness-based interventions, such as MBCT, could reduce patient distress.
Previous studies demonstrated that mindfulness-based interventions, such as MBCT, could reduce patient distress.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and individual Internet-based MBCT (eMBCT) had comparable efficacy in improving psychological distress among patients with cancer compared with treatment as usual (TAU), according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Previous studies have demonstrated that patients who undergo mindfulness-based interventions, such as MBCT, could experience reductions in distress and psychiatric disorders but face challenges in having consistent face-to-face interventions. eMBCT has been identified as a potentially effective alternative, but how eMBCT and MBCT compare with TAU requires further study.

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For this study, researchers randomly assigned 245 patients with cancer and psychological distress to MBCT, eMBCT, or TAU; patients assigned to TAU were secondarily randomly assigned to MBCT or eMBCT after 3 months. The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) was used to assess psychologic distress.

Results showed that patients assigned to MBCT or eMBCT had significantly reduced psychological distress compared with TAU (P <.001). Furthermore, although not statistically significant, patients who underwent MBCT and eMBCT had a lower prevalence of psychiatric diagnosis postintervention than those who received TAU.

Compared with TAU, MBCT and eMBCT reduced the fear of cancer recurrence and rumination, and also improved mental health-related quality of life (HRQOL), positive mental health, and mindfulness skills (P <.025).

No improvements in physical HRQOL were observed (P =.343).

The authors concluded that “future studies should assess how different eMBCT designs (eg, blended designs combining the advantages of face-to-face and Internet-based elements) could further improve intervention accessibility, adherence, and effectiveness.”


Compen F, Bisseling E, Schellekens M, et al. Face-to-face and Internet-based mindfulness-based cognitive therapy compared with treatment as usual in reducing psychological distress in patients with cancer: a multicenter randomized controlled trial [published online June 28, 2018]. J Clin Oncol. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2017.76.5669 

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