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Mindfulness-Based Therapy for Cancer Patients


Cancer is one of the prevalent diseases in the world. The disease itself as well as cancer treatment becomes a frequent cause of psychological distress for patients. For example, earlier investigations reveal the damage that breast cancer treatments have on the normal cognitive functioning of female patients. Other studies provide evidence of a positive effect that music has on mindfulness practice. However, there was no relevant research testing music as a tool for mindfulness-based therapy. Thus, the research under analysis investigates the effect, which mindfulness-based music therapy (MBMT) has on attention and mood of women receiving adjuvant chemotherapy treatment (Lesiuk, 2015). Moreover, this study explores such issues as the deficits of attention and general symptom distress. The current paper aims to provide a critical analysis of the article, which presents the results of the pilot study, and discover its main findings as well as evidence-based practice implications.

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Research Question

The research question can be formulated in the following way: Does mindfulness-based music therapy have an effect on attention and mood of women who receive adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer? Previous researches provide evidence in favor of using the mindfulness-based therapy to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms in patients with cancer (Zhang, Wen, & Liu, 2015). For this investigation, mindful-based therapy proved to be effective for relieving depression and anxiety in patients with cancer. It should also be mentioned that mindful-based therapies are effective not only during face-to-face interventions. Thus, there is a research on mindful-based cognitive therapy for cancer patients by means of the Internet (Compen, Bisseling, Schellekens, Jansen, van der Lee, & Speckens, 2017). It provides the analysis of opportunities of the Internet-based mindfulness cognitive therapies for cancer patients who cannot attend regular meetings. Therefore, mindfulness therapies have potential for dealing with conditions related to cancer treatment.

Research Design

The research follows a quantitative, descriptive, longitudinal design. The choice of quantitative descriptive approach can be justified by the necessity to measure the changes registered in the course of the investigation resulting from the use of MBMT. Qualitative approach is preferable for such a study because qualitative one would not allow measuring the changes and evaluating their statistical significance. In its turn, longitudinal approach is beneficial for this research due to the peculiarities of chemotherapy for breast cancer, which was repeated every three weeks and lasted for six cycles for the experiment participants.


For this research, the sample included 15 female patients with breast cancer receiving adjuvant chemotherapy. This sample is not big for a quantitative research design and cannot provide high statistical significance. Still, in the conditions of a comprehensive cancer hospital, 15 patients with the same diagnoses and equal treatment plan can be treated as a satisfactory sample. The age range of the patients varied from 27 to 70 years (mean age 52.6 years). All of them were diagnosed with stage I-III breast cancer and were receiving adjuvant chemotherapy in several consequent courses. Thus, the numbers mentioned in the article can be considered adequate for the research under analysis.

Data Collection Method

There is no exact information who collected the data but it is evident that they were collected by a researcher, probably involving some additional staff to provide the necessary measurements. To obtain the data, Conners’ Continuous Performance Test II was conducted (Lesiuk, 2015). The research participants had to pass a computerized assessment, which evaluates their attention, impulsivity, and vigilance. To assess mood conditions, the research participants had to complete a Profile of Mood States-Brief Form (Lesiuk, 2015). It included a list of items that were supposed to measure the respondent’s feelings during the experiment. However, the article lacks information about ethical considerations of the research, which is its gap.


Despite the fact that all the procedures necessary for a quantitative research were completed, there are some limitations. First of all, the generalization of the research findings is limited due to a small sample size. Secondly, absence of the wait-list control condition is another limitation. Finally, although the sessions of chemotherapy were concurrent with MBMT interventions, the patients had different number of chemotherapy cycles before they entered the experiment. Still, these limitations can be overcome in the future research. For example, a bigger sample can be involved from different healthcare facilities, which will also allow the participation of patients with similar histories. Also, a wait-list control condition can be used in future investigations. The identification of limitations is crucial for every research because it allows evaluating gaps of the study and avoiding them in future researchers.


The research provides some important findings. For example, it was proved that the use of MBMT for patients with breast cancer receiving adjuvant chemotherapy is beneficial for the condition of their attention (Lesiuk, 2015). Also, MBMT had a positive impact on negative mood conditions among the research participants. The women with breast cancer involved in the experiment admitted improvements in conditions of anger, depression, confusion, tension, and fatigue. Moreover, some research participants claimed that MBMT had a positive impact of their sleeping and made them feel more relaxed. Consequently, the research findings prove the hypothesis about the possibility of positive influence of MBMT on the condition of women with breast cancer receiving adjuvant chemotherapy. Ten research results are reliable because the data were received through specific measurement tools and the analysis was conducted with the use of such statistical instruments as SPSS and a repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA).

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Summarizing the analysis, it can be concluded that the research question was answered. The findings of this investigation provide evidence of benefits that the mindful-based music therapy can have for the female patients with breast cancer undergoing adjuvant chemotherapy. Therefore, the following improvements were recorded. First of all, the application of MBMT in conditions of the Comprehensive Cancer Center resulted in positive changes in the condition of their attention and mood. Furthermore, this study proved that the MBMT used for patients with breast cancer receiving adjuvant chemotherapy improves their attention and reduces negative mood conditions.

The study under analysis has certain practical implications, which are important for nursing. Thus, nurses can be educated and apply mindfulness-based music tools for patients with breast cancer between the sessions of chemotherapy. Nevertheless, these interventions demand some nurse education on their proper use and may need the presence of a music therapist during MBMT sessions.

Generally speaking, the study proves that the mindful-based music therapy is an effective tool for breast cancer patients who receive adjuvant chemotherapy. Consequently, evidence obtained during the research can be used in nursing practice in cancer centers. It has a potential of reducing the negative mood conditions of women with breast cancer and improving their attention. Nevertheless, future studies with a bigger and more carefully selected sample can provide a greater contribution to improving the opportunities for breast cancer treatment in conditions of cancer centers.


Compen, F. R., Bisseling, E. M., Schellekens, M. P., Jansen, E. T., van der Lee, M. L., & Speckens, A. E. (2017). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for cancer patients delivered via Internet: Qualitative study of patient and therapist barriers and facilitators. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 19(12), e407.

Lesiuk, T. (2015). The effect of mindfulness-based music therapy on attention and mood in women receiving adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer: A pilot study. Oncology Nursing Forum, 42(3), 276-282.

Zhang, M.-F., Wen, Y.-S., Liu, W.-Y., Peng, L.-F., Wu, X.-D., & Liu, Q.-W. (2015). Effectiveness of mindfulness-based therapy for reducing anxiety and depression in patients with cancer: A Meta-analysis. Medicine, 94(45), e0897.

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