Investigating the Efficacy of a Lovingkindness Meditation Intervention for Patients Undergoing Breast Cancer Surgery: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study
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Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in the United States. Despite more women undergoing treatment and increased survival rates, many women continue to suffer from emotional distress and physical symptoms associated with treatments for breast cancer (e.g., surgery). To date, there has been limited research investigating the efficacy of psychosocial interventions for breast cancer patients during the surgical time frame. This randomized controlled pilot study examined the effect of a lovingkindness meditation intervention on key psychological and physical outcomes surrounding breast surgery. Sixty women undergoing surgery were randomly assigned to one of three treatment conditions at breast biopsy: 1) lovingkindness meditation, 2) music, 3) standard care. Assessments of emotional distress, physical symptoms, and positive psychosocial resources occurred prior to patients' biopsy, following their biopsy, one week after receipt of their biopsy results, and one week following breast surgery. Multilevel model analyses demonstrated that lovingkindness meditation significantly improved anxiety, pain, self-compassion, emotional suppression, mindfulness, social isolation, and heart rate levels over time compared to control conditions. These results support the efficacy of a brief lovingkindness meditation intervention for breast cancer patients during the surgical time frame. The implications of these findings on future research, theory, and policy are discussed.
DepartmentPsychology and Neuroscience
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