A Phenomenological Qualitative Exploration of Mind-Body Therapy Use and Effectiveness Among Young, Middle, and Older Adult Cancer Survivors

Author: Sarthak Singh1, Tina Nguyen1, Julie Deleemans1, Devesh Oberoi1, Katherine-Ann Piedalue2, Linda E Carlson1
1 Cumming School of Medicine, Department of Oncology, Division of Psychosocial Oncology, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada.
2 Department of Science, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
Conference/Journal: Integr Cancer Ther
Date published: 2024 Jan-Dec
Other: Volume ID: 23 , Pages: 15347354241253847 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1177/15347354241253847. , Word Count: 280

Having been diagnosed with and treated for cancer can have negative psychosocial repercussions that may differ across the lifespan. Mind-body therapies (MBTs), such as tai-chi/qigong (TCQ) or mindfulness-based cancer recovery (MBCR), have shown promise in decreasing negative psychosocial outcomes in cancer survivors, but few studies have explored potential differences in MBT use and effectiveness across age groups.

A descriptive phenomenological qualitative design was used. Participants included young (18-39), middle (40-64), and older (65+) adult cancer survivors who were diagnosed with any type of cancer and had participated in Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery (MBCR) or Tai Chi/Qigong (TCQ) MBTs. Semi-structured qualitative interviews explored participants' experiences in MBTs and these were analyzed using descriptive phenomenological analysis.

Among the interviews (n = 18), young (n = 6), middle-aged (n = 8), and older (n = 4) adults participated. 5 themes emerged: influences in joining the program, unique lifestyles, positive class experiences, use of media, and program impacts. Though all age groups benefitted from MBT participation, variations between age groups with respect to the benefits received and motivations for joining the program were observed.

MBTs had beneficial physical and mental health effects on survivors of all age groups. These benefits were particularly connected to the ongoing life stresses common to each age cohort, such as relief from work and family roles for young adults or support during retirement transition for older adults. Hence, access to MBT programs may be beneficial as part of the survivorship plan for patients and the recruitment strategies or content can be adapted by MBT providers to better target and support age-specific groups. More research is required with a larger sample.

Keywords: Tai Chi; adolescent/young adult (AYA); mind-body therapy; mindfulness; phenomenology; qualitative.

PMID: 38767143 DOI: 10.1177/15347354241253847