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Mindfulness and concerns about adjuvant endocrine therapy (AET)


BACKGROUND: Poor adherence to AET for early stage breast cancer is associated with increased recurrence and mortality. Interventions to improve adherence have been minimally effective. Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose in the present moment with an attitude of openness and acceptance. In this cross-sectional study, we examined clinicopathologic, and psychosocial factors, including dispositional mindfulness, associated with increased concerns about medication.

METHODS: Women with stage 1-3 breast cancer who had taken at least one dose of AET within 2 years of enrollment completed questionnaires to examine medication beliefs (Beliefs about Medication Questionnaire), symptoms (FACT-ES), treatment satisfaction (Treatment Satisfaction Questionnaire for Medication II), and mindfulness (Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire-15). Descriptive statistics were used for demographic and clinical variables. Linear regression was used to examine the associations between medication concerns and both treatment satisfaction and mindfulness measures. 

RESULTS: Of the 101 enrolled patients, 43 were taking tamoxifen, 46 an aromatase inhibitor (AI), and 12 had discontinued AET; average time on AET was 11 months (SD 6.3). 32% had stage 2 disease and 22% had stage 3. Concerns about medications was moderately negatively correlated with mindfulness (ρ = -0.349, p < 0.001). In the baseline model, medication concerns were associated with increased side effects but not with age at diagnosis, stage, or current AET status. When controlling for age, stage, current AET status, and side effects, there was a trend towards increased mindfulness and decreased medication concerns. 

CONCLUSIONS: Dispositional mindfulness may be associated with fewer concerns about medication. If mindfulness is shown to influence medication adherence, interventions such as mindfulness training to improve compliance with AET could be investigated.


Henry, N.L., Iacob, E., Mooney, K. & Garland, E.L. (2019). Mindfulness and concerns about adjuvant endocrine therapy (AET). Journal of Clinical Oncology, 37(15).

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Last Updated: 12/12/23