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Mindfulness can help patients adapt to life with long-term conditions

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Interventions based around “mindfulness” can help patients adapt to the challenged of living with long-term conditions, according to UK nurse researchers.

Their study – called Starting Where I Am – explored if practising mindfulness meditation-based interventions could positively affect the experience of those living with a long-term condition.

“Our study shows that mindfulness can really help”

Jacqui Long

They noted that such conditions were often complex and time-consuming to treat, and current healthcare provision often failed to meet requirements for long-term integrated care.

Patients can experience feelings of loss, anger, anxiety, low self-esteem and a loss of a sense of identity, added the researchers from De Montfort University in Leicester, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds University, and the University of Huddersfield.

They also noted that most previous evidence related to short-term outcomes and limited information existed about how patients used mindfulness in the longer term.

Their study was based on interviews with 41 participants in the Breathworks Mindfulness for Health programme, an eight-week course developed for those living with pain or long-term conditions.

“Participants reported predominantly positive experiences, almost all identifying significant changes in thinking and behaviour,” said the researchers in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

It also suggested mindfulness could play an important role as a “facilitator of transition”, enabling people to more easily adapt and come to terms to living with a long-term condition, they said.

Lead study author Dr Jaqui Long, from the school of midwifery and nursing at De Montfort, said: ‘We felt that this research was important as most evidence on mindfulness relates to short-term outcomes and there was limited information on the longer term impact.

“We were able to interview people who had been benefitting from mindfulness for up to nine years,” she said.

“In addition, given the challenges for both individuals with long-term conditions and healthcare professionals, there is an enormous need to identify effective self-management interventions, particularly for those whose psychological wellbeing has been affected,” she said. “Our study shows that mindfulness can really help.”

Dr Long added: “Our study has also provided new insights into the complex and ongoing nature of transition which may enable health professionals to support patients more effectively on their journey towards adjusting to life with a long-term condition.

“We hope that mindfulness as a facilitator of transition and as a self-management tool will be explored further,” she said.

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