Mindfulness not for everyone, new research shows

Mindfulness therapy is no more effective than quality medical care in reducing distress in men with advanced prostate cancer, a new research study has found.

Mindfulness-based approaches have been rapidly adopted globally to help reduce psychological distress associated with cancer.

For the first time, a new Griffith University and Cancer Council study has found telephone-based mindfulness therapy did not improve psychological or quality of life outcomes for men with advanced prostate cancer.

Director of Menzies Health Institute QLD, Professor Suzanne Chambers, said despite men’s positive experience of the therapy, mindfulness skills didn’t change.

“Men receiving mindfulness therapy did not experience benefit in psychological distress over time compared to men receiving usual care with self-help booklets,” Prof Chambers said.

“It’s assumed men would have higher engagement with mindfulness and consequently lower psychological and cancer-specific distress, but this was not the case in our study.

“Mindfulness has been shown to be helpful for breast cancer patients, but how useful it might be for other patient groups is still not known.

“Greater caution and rigorous evaluation are needed before mindfulness-based approaches are recommended and applied across multiple contexts.

“More research is critically needed to specifically determine effective ways of reducing psychological morbidity in men with advanced prostate cancer.”

The mindfulness therapy involved eight group sessions delivered weekly via telehealth, with peer support, workbooks and daily home practice of mindfulness meditation encouraged.

The usual care delivery included Cancer Council QLD patient education materials, relaxation information, a guided audio relaxation CD, nutrition guides and information about free telephone-based cancer information and support services in the participant’s home state.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift encouraged any Queenslanders experiencing distress associated with prostate cancer to call Cancer Council’s 13 11 20.

“Men with prostate cancer, and their family and friends, are encouraged to call 13 11 20 for advice, support or referral to support groups or specialised cancer counselling,” Ms Clift said.

“We encourage those affected to talk to one of our qualified health professionals for information, support, advice, and emotional assistance.

“Addressing distress is not a ‘one size fits all approach’ and we work with individuals to tailor support to meet their needs.”

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Queensland, accounting for nearly 1 in 3 of all male cancers and around 3900 new diagnoses each year.

Tragically, about 590 Queensland men die from the disease annually.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available on 13 11 20 or cancerqld.org.au

For more information or interviews, please contact:
Katie Clift,
Executive Manager,
Media and Spokesperson,
Cancer Council Queensland
Phone: (07) 3634 5372
Mobile: 0409 001 171