Course taster

Mindfulness, meditation and spiritual practices in managing long-term conditions

Both mindfulness and meditation have become popular practices to improve wellbeing. Spiritual practices also impact the management of LTCs.

Select the following drop-downs to find out more about these methods of managing LTCs:

Meditation refers to a range of practices focused on mind–body integration and is used to enhance overall wellbeing. Meditation involves focusing on particular sensations (breathing, a sound, a visual image or a repeated word/mantra) (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, 2022).

In a systematic review, Araujo et al. (2019) found that meditation had positive effects in reducing physical and emotional symptoms including stress, depression, anxiety rumination and fear of recurrence in patients with breast cancer.

Mindfulness meditation involves maintaining attention or awareness on the present moment, without making judgements. Mindfulness can be combined with other activities, such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), which applies the techniques of mindfulness to stressful experiences.

In a study examining chronic pain that compared CBT with MBSR in 697 participants, both CBT and MBSR were more effective in reducing pain compared to no treatment. No differences in efficacy in reducing pain were found between CBT and MBSR, indicating they were equally effective in reducing pain (Khoo et al., 2019). Mindfulness has previously been shown to be effective in reducing depression and pain across a range of LTCs, although further research is needed in relation to other mental health outcomes and physical functioning (Long et al., 2017).

An increasing amount of research is being conducted into the effects of meditation and mindfulness on patients with LTCs (e.g. Long et al., 2017; Mackey et al., 2022). Similarly, greater attention is being focused on the role of spiritual practices in the management of LTCs, as well as the role of healthcare practitioners in supporting patients' needs.

Spirituality, comprising religious beliefs and philosophical thoughts about life, its meaning and its purpose, can play a role in patients' coping and adjustment to LTCs. For example, Ebola virus disease survivors reported coping strategies including engagement with religious faith, praying and reading key religious texts (James et al., 2020).

Rassouli et al. (2015) suggested that integrating spiritual care into nursing curricula would help healthcare practitioners to support patients and manage distress related to LTCs such as cancer, including in advanced stages of LTCs when patients may be trying to find meaning and purpose in life and death, as well as what happens after death.

While we have only discussed a few available psychological interventions aimed at improving outcomes in patients with LTCs, there are many others. Activity 9.2 will give you the opportunity to consider several others.


Exploring additional psychological interventions in patients with LTCs

Aim: To explore other psychological interventions used in patients with LTCs.

Duration: 45 minutes

Resources: Unit 9 content

Task: Consider a long-term physical condition that you may have encountered in your professional or academic practice or that you might be interested in. Conduct independent research to identify a psychological intervention that can be used in patients experiencing that condition.

You may wish to find an intervention that has not been mentioned in the text or explore one of these interventions in more detail (e.g. spiritual practices).

Write a brief summary of the intervention you have found or if it has already been discussed by another student, comment on their post with your own findings of how the intervention can be applied to patients with different conditions.

Discuss the intervention on the MS Teams site board (no more than 250 words). You are welcome to comment on anything that you think is notable, but you might consider what the intervention is, how it has been implemented (and how it might be implemented more widely), and any strengths or limitations that you can identify with the intervention. (The link to the MS Teams site board is not available in this course taster).

Feedback: You will engage in peer discussion and peer feedback. You will also have the opportunity to receive feedback during the first section of the webinar.