Longitudinal impact of mindfulness meditation on illness burden in solid-organ transplant recipients

Mary Jo Kreitzer, Cynthia R Gross, Xin Ye, Valerie Russas, Charoen Treesak
Progress in Transplantation 2005, 15 (2): 166-72

BACKGROUND: In 2001, more than 24000 solid-organ transplant surgeries were performed in the United States. Although survival rates have steadily risen over the past 2 decades, transplant recipients commonly experience a myriad of symptoms after transplantation that compromise quality of life. Anxiety, depression, and insomnia frequently occur despite excellent function of the transplanted organ. Use of complementary and alternative medicine has risen sharply over the past 10 years, particularly among people with chronic illnesses.

METHODS: Twenty solid-organ transplant recipients were enrolled in a clinical trial of mindfulness-based stress reduction. During the 8-week course, subjects learned various forms of meditation and gentle hatha yoga. Participants were given audiotapes for home practice and maintained practice diaries. Longitudinal analysis focused on the impact of mindfulness-based stress reduction on symptom management, illness intrusion, and transplant-related stressors.

RESULTS: Significant improvements in the quality and duration of sleep continued for 6 months after completion of the mindfulness-based stress reduction course. Improvements after the completion of the course were also noted in self-report measures of anxiety and depression.

CONCLUSIONS: Mindfulness-based stress reduction is an effective treatment in improving the quality and duration of sleep. Because sleep is highly correlated with positive mental health and overall well-being, these findings suggest that mindfulness-based stress reduction has the potential of being an effective, accessible and low-cost intervention that could significantly change transplant recipients' overall health and well-being.

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