A Pragmatic Evaluation of Symptom Distress After Group Meditation for Cancer Patients and Caregivers: A Preliminary Report

Gabriel Lopez, Alejandro Chaoul, Catherine Powers-James, Amy Spelman, Qi Wei, Rosalinda Engle, Yousra Hashmi, Eduardo Bruera, Lorenzo Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Context: Complementary health approaches such as meditation may help improve cancer patient and caregiver symptoms, yet little research has examined the clinical application of these programs. Objectives: We explored the effects of a meditation group class, offered as part of an integrative medicine clinic at a comprehensive cancer center, on patient and caregiver self-reported symptoms. Methods: Participants (patients and caregivers) of any three meditation group classes offered—Power of Breath (PB), Sacred Sounds (SS), and Movement & Breath (MB)—were asked to complete the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS; scale 0–10, 10 most severe) before and after participation. ESAS individual items and subscales were analyzed; distress subscales included global (global distress score 0–90), physical (physical distress score 0–60), and psychological (psychological distress score, 0–20). Data were analyzed examining premeditation/postmeditation scores using paired t-tests and between types of meditation using analyses of variance. Results: One hundred forty-two unique participants (76 patients and 66 caregivers) attended one or more meditation groups (mean 1.84) from May to December 2015 (265 total attendance: PB n = 92; SS n = 87; MB n = 86). For all participants, we observed clinically significant reduction/improvement in global distress scores (−5.17, SD 8; P < 0.0001) and in individual symptoms (ESAS decrease ≥ 1; means) of well-being (−1.36 SD 1.7; P < 0.0001), fatigue (−1.34 SD 1.9; P < 0.0001), anxiety (−1.26 SD 1.6; P < 0.001), and shortness of breath (−1.2 SD 2; P = 0.001). Comparing class length (60 vs. 90 minutes), class content (PB vs. SS vs. MB), and participants (caregivers vs. patients), there were no statistically significant differences in symptom score reduction. Conclusion: A single meditation group class offered as part of clinical care resulted in relief of multiple self-reported symptoms in both patients and caregivers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1321-1326.e1
JournalJournal of pain and symptom management
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018


  • Integrative medicine
  • caregivers
  • complementary health approaches
  • meditation
  • self-reported outcomes
  • symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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