Send to

Choose Destination
Psychooncology. 2015 Aug;24(8):885-93. doi: 10.1002/pon.3648. Epub 2014 Aug 17.

Randomized controlled pilot study of mindfulness-based stress reduction for persistently fatigued cancer survivors.

Author information

Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA.
Regenstrief Institute, Inc., Indianapolis, IN, USA.
Indiana University School of Nursing, Indianapolis, IN, USA.



Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is one of the most common, persistent, and disabling symptoms associated with cancer and its treatment. Evidence-based treatments that are acceptable to patients are critically needed. This study examined the efficacy of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) for CRF and related symptoms.


A sample of 35 cancer survivors with clinically significant CRF was randomly assigned to a 7-week MBSR-based intervention or wait-list control group. The intervention group received training in mindfulness meditation, yoga, and self-regulatory responses to stress. Fatigue interference (primary outcome) and a variety of secondary outcomes (e.g., fatigue severity, vitality, disability, depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance) were assessed at baseline, post-intervention, and 1-month follow-up. Bonferroni correction was employed to account for multiple comparisons. Controls received the intervention after the 1-month follow-up. Participants in both groups were followed for 6 months after completing their respective MBSR courses to assess maintenance of effects.


Compared to controls, the MBSR group reported large post-intervention reductions as assessed by effect sizes (d) in the primary outcome, fatigue interference (d = -1.43, p < 0.001), along with fatigue severity (d = -1.55, p < 0.001), vitality (d = 1.29, p < 0.001), depression (d = -1.30, p < 0.001), and sleep disturbance (d = -0.74, p = 0.001). Results were maintained or strengthened at 1-month follow-up, the point at which significant improvements in disability (d = -1.22, p < 0.002) and anxiety (d = -0.98, p = 0.002) occurred. Improvements in all outcomes were maintained 6 months after completing the course. MBSR adherence was high, with 90% attendance across groups and high rates of participant-reported home practice of mindfulness.


Mindfulness-based stress reduction is a promising treatment for CRF and associated symptoms.


MBSR; cancer; cancer-related fatigue; meditation; mindfulness; oncology

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center