Date of Award


Degree Type

Evidence-Based Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)



First Advisor

Julie M. Brandy


Significant advances in cancer treatments have been made over recent decades resulting in state of the art screening and treatment options that have contributed to higher rates of cancer survivorship. However, despite the increase in cancer survivors, a cancer diagnosis continues to be associated with a significant amount of emotional distress and psychological issues that further add to the burden of the disease. The Institute of Medicine (2008), recognizes that a failure to adequately address this problem results in needless suffering and may obstruct quality of care; thereby, leading to a potentially negative impact on the disease course. Among the many interventions available to support patients who are experiencing high levels of emotional burden, mindfulness meditation (MM) has been identified as an effective option. MM is a form of meditation where an individual focuses on moment-to-moment experiences in a nonjudgmental way (Poulin, Mackenzie, Soloway, & Karayolas, 2008). This evidence based practice (EBP) project examined the effects of a six-week MM program on the emotional distress scores of cancer patients living in Eastern Long Island, New York. The MM intervention was modeled after the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program developed by John Kabat-Zinn. Orem’s theory of self-care and the Stetler model guided the EBP project. The Brief Symptoms Inventory-18 (BSI-18) and the Distress Thermometer (DT) measured changes in emotional distress. Descriptive statistics and a non-parametric test, the Wilcoxon signed rank test, were used to compare pre and post scores of the BSI-18 and the DT. Post intervention scores on all three of the BSI-18 subscales demonstrated statistically significant reductions in somatization (p = .30), depression (p = .010), and anxiety (p = .006). Post intervention scores on global severity (p = .013), which represents the participant’s overall level of distress also demonstrated statistically significant reductions. Post interventions scores from the DT (p = .121) did not however demonstrate a statistically significant reduction in distress. Findings suggest that MM can be effective in managing emotional distress in oncology patients, however additional studies using heterogeneous cancer patients and larger samples are needed.