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Intra-individual study of mindfulness: ecological momentary perspective in post-surgical lung cancer patients

Journal of Behavioral Medicine
Mariya P. Shiyko, Brian Siembor, Paul B. Greene, Joshua Smyth, Jack E. Burkhalter


The period of recovery following a lung-cancer surgery presents unique challenges and psychological demands. The study utilized ecological momentary assessments (EMA) to repeatedly sample mindfulness states in a sample of mindfulness-untrained individuals following hospital discharge. Intra- and inter- individual variability was assessed to examine cancer patients’ natural capacity to exhibit mindfulness states during two weeks of recovery. Fifty nine stage I lung cancer patients (61% women, mean age = 66.1, SD = 7.9) completed EMA twice a day for two weeks. Mean level of mindfulness in the sample was low and equaled .49 (SD = .51) on the 5 point scale, with older participants being less likely to endorse mindful states. Net variability in mindfulness, defined as the person-based standard deviation in momentary scores, equaled .42 (SD = .26), ranging for 0 to 1.3 and indicating very modest variability for most participants. Results of the multi-level variance partitioning model revealed 41.4% of variance in mindfulness scores at the inter-individual, 2.4% on the temporal (i.e., .2% weekly and 2.2% daily), and 56.2% on the momentary levels. Findings indicate that, for cancer patients recovering from surgery, the innate ability to exhibit mindfulness is limited. From the methodological standpoint, consideration of intra-individual variability has implications for conceptualization and design of EMA studies.

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