Home About us Editorial board Search Ahead of print Current issue Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contacts Login 
  • Users Online: 1307
  • Home
  • Print this page
  • Email this page

 Table of Contents  
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 193-197

Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy on Healthy Quality of Life in Women with Breast Cancer

1 Department of Public Health, Neyshabur University of Medical Sciences, Neyshabur, Iran
2 Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Neyshabur University of Medical Sciences, Neyshabur, Iran

Date of Submission11-Jun-2018
Date of Acceptance18-Jul-2018
Date of Web Publication04-Sep-2018

Correspondence Address:
Zeinab Jalambadani
Department of Public Health, Neyshabur University of Medical Sciences, Neyshabur
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/apjon.apjon_36_18

Rights and Permissions

Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of mindfulness-based art therapy (MBAT) in promoting quality of life in Neyshabur women with breast cancer. Methods: This study was an interventional design that was conducted on 124 women with breast cancer (any stage) in Iran 2018. One hundred and fourteen women with breast cancer were paired by age and randomized to either 12-week MBAT intervention group or a wait-list-control group. One hundred and fourteen women with breast cancer completed both the pre-and post-study measurements. As compared to the control group, the MBAT group demonstrated a significant decrease in symptoms of distress and significant improvements in key aspects of the health-related quality of life (as measured by the World Health Organization Quality-of-Life - BREF questionnaire). Results: The MBAT interventions had a significant effect on improving quality of life behaviors (P < 0.05). Among the dimensions of quality of life, the highest mean score was for subpsychological (18.14 ± 2.35), and the lowest score was achieved by the subdomains of social relationships (13.54 ± 1.12). The mean (standard deviation) scores of physical health and environment were 17.19 ± 3.55 and 16.10 ± 1.87, respectively. Conclusions: This investigation of MBAT provides initial encouraging data that support a possible future role for the intervention as a psychosocial option for decrease in symptoms of women with breast cancer and quality of life.

Keywords: Art therapy, breast cancer, mindfulness

How to cite this article:
Jalambadani Z, Borji A. Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy on Healthy Quality of Life in Women with Breast Cancer. Asia Pac J Oncol Nurs 2019;6:193-7

How to cite this URL:
Jalambadani Z, Borji A. Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy on Healthy Quality of Life in Women with Breast Cancer. Asia Pac J Oncol Nurs [serial online] 2019 [cited 2021 Aug 3];6:193-7. Available from: https://www.apjon.org/text.asp?2019/6/2/193/240576

  Introduction Top

Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer among women, impacting over 1.5 million women each year, and causes the greatest number of cancer-related deaths among women. In 2015, 570,000 women died from breast cancer – that is approximately 15% of all cancer deaths among women. While breast cancer rates are higher among women in more developed regions, rates are increasing in nearly every region globally.[1]

Quality of life is important for every human being; however, this importance grows with the occurrence of disease, addiction, and close end-to-life.[2] Although the concept of quality of life is often used, it is hard to define it. It depends on the subjective understanding of health and disease, it is multidimensional, and in accordance with the definition given by the World Health Organization (WHO), it consists of physical, mental and social health, cognitive and sexual functions, working ability, and lifelong pleasure.[3]

The use of psychological therapies is very important. One of the innovations in the psychological therapies particularly treatment of cancer is the combination of eastern intellectual traditions such as mindfulness meditation to the traditional cognitive behavior therapy which is referred to as third wave of behavior therapy [4] and is used to prevent distress and depression.[5] The researchers believe that applying of observational thought style due to mechanisms hidden therein such as acceptance, increase in consciousness, desensitization, presence at moment, observation without judge, confronting and releasing in combination with the techniques of traditional cognitive behavior therapy may reduce subsequent symptoms and consequences, moreover increases the effectiveness of treatment and helps welfare of people.[6]

Mental mindfulness-based art therapy (MBAT) is one of the interventions and therapies recently proposed for cancer patients by integrating an intervention MBAT approach with a formulation of emotional support groups. Research evidence suggests the effectiveness of this method in reducing the number of disorders, irregularities, and improving the style of life of women with various types of cancer.[7] Art therapy combines the creative process and psychotherapy, facilitating self-exploration, and understanding. Using imagery, color and shape as part of this creative therapeutic process, thoughts and feelings can be expressed that would otherwise be difficult to articulate. The main difference between MBAT approach and the reduction of mental-based stress-based intervention is the awareness that it is based on the teaching of nonverbal components such as creative expression of emotions and physical emotions in patients.[8] The effectiveness of art therapy in the treatment of psychopathy disorders was proved.[9],[10] It seems that a group-based mental-based art-based approach to awareness of power has greater effectiveness in the field of treatment and intervention in mental-psychiatric disorders, and this means merging the two methods before, the strength of this new method of treatment is strong. According to the results of the studies, one of the most recent unpredictable interventions in recent years in the treatment of chronic medical conditions such as cancer and chronic pain is group therapy based on mind-consciousness art therapy, which is rooted in the theory of gabazine.[11] This method is the result of the theoretical and therapeutic studies of gabazine [12],[13] whose effectiveness has been confirmed by Monti et al.[8] in women with cancer. However, so far, no study has been done about the use of mind-focused art therapy to improve quality of life and reduce the stress of women with breast cancer. The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of MBAT in promoting quality of life in women with breast cancer visiting Razavi Hospital of Mashhad city.

  Methods Top

This study is semi-experimental which has been applied as pretest-posttest and control group. At first, women with breast cancer (any stage) with a range of ages ranging from 40 to 60 years, married, homemakers were invited through research invitations to attend this therapeutic research period. By written consent, they were randomly assigned into two groups of 50 test and control and responded to the research tools. To conduct this research, the interventional group once a week, using a protocol of 90 min, underwent a mind-focused art therapy.

Ethical approval

The study was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki and was approved by the Ethics Committee of Neyshabur University of Medical Sciences. Informed written consent was obtained from all participants prior to their enrollment in this study.


WHO Quality-of-Life (WHOQOL)-BREF questionnaire is directed toward attaining positive outcomes and result in a positive health experience throughout the life span. Examples of these behaviors are physical health, psychological, social relationships, and environment.

This questionnaire comprised 24 items. Physical health (7 items), psychological (6 items), social relationships (3 items), and environment (8 items). The reliability of the questionnaire was 0.97. Cronbach's alpha coefficient was calculated as 0.94, and its validity has already been confirmed.


Participants were assigned to either the MBAT group or the control group. The educational needs of the groups were determined. Each group met for 90 min once weekly, for 12 weeks and 12 sessions. One month was set aside for completion of the survey (pre-intervention and post-intervention). The curriculum focused art therapy in Monti et al.[14]

The group art therapy component of the intervention focused on nonverbal activities (i.e., the making of directed and spontaneous art productions) that were interwoven with the verbal processes within the group. Specific art tasks were directed to explore present moment experience and learning related to the experiential and cognitive elements of the mindfulness-based curriculum.

Therapy sessions, as follows:First session: introduction to art making. “Draw a complete picture of yourself” self-picture assessment (SPA) task. Second session: mindful exploration of art materials (colored pencil, marker, pastel, watercolor crayon, and paint). Awareness of sensory stimulus and response. Body scan meditation, attitudinal foundations of mindfulness. Anchoring attention with the breath. Session 3: exploring the mind-body relationship: pre–post assessment of mind/body relationship before and after gentle yoga. Fourth session: creative problem-solving/imaging self-care. Transforming mental, emotional and physical pain; introducing self-care imagery into the picture. Session five: exploring meditation practice experience: art productions, using collage element, serve as the basis for increasing skills with mindfulness practice in the realm of thoughts and feelings. Session six: stressful and pleasant event pictures as introduction to the physiology of stress including stressful communication/non-reactive communication skills. Session seven: Open studio: free-art making. Session eight: Guided imagery to a place of healing. Session nine: drawing a complete and healthy picture of yourself based on this visualization of health; care of mind consciousness, focusing on your complete and healthy image. Session ten: SPA task. Sessions eleven and twelve: Group discussion and sharing of member experiences and summaries on the content of all sessions.

Statistical analysis

After collecting data, the questionnaires were encoded, and data entered into the computer, and the analysis was carried out using SPSS version 22 software (IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Armonk, NY: IBM Corp. Released 2013), Spearman's correlation coefficient tests, and linear regression analysis. Descriptive statistics including mean and deviation frequency were used to describe demographic information of research samples. Independent samples t-test, Mann–Whitney U-test, and Chi-square test were used for the homogeneous test. The correlation coefficient of Pearson and Spearman and linear regression were used to determine the correlation between TPB variables and to determine the predictive power TPB variables, respectively. The level of significance of P < 0.05 was considered for all tests.

  Results Top

The age group was 55.75 ± 3.53 in the MBAT group and 55.35 ± 3.35 in the control group [Table 1]. The majority of MBAT and control group has university (69.5%) and high school (29.5%) degree, respectively, and the education level of husband in MBAT and control group has been high school degree (50.0%) and university degree (40.0%), respectively. The job of majority of research units in both groups was homemakers (75.0%). The husband's job in MBAT and control group was freelance (62.5%). The income of the majority of research units (95.0%) was enough. The majority of research units (75.3%), regarding housing status, had their personal home. In the present study, the hypothesis of naturalness in dimensions of the quality of life score in both the MBAT and control groups was investigated by the independent-samples t-test, and the results indicated that this hypothesis was established. Based on the results, both hypotheses were validated.
Table 1: Mean age, age of cancer in mindfulness-based art therapy, and control groups before intervention

Click here to view

[Table 2] shows that the average rates of physical health, psychological, social relationships, environment in MBAT group were increased significantly (P < 0.05); these changes were not significant in the control group [Table 2].
Table 2: The comparison among the average of studied variables in group of mindfulness-based art therapy and control, before and after intervention (Mean±SD)

Click here to view

  Discussion Top

Consistent with the first primary aim of the study, participants who received the 12 weeks' MBAT intervention demonstrated statistically significantly greater decreases in symptoms of distress as compared to participants in the wait-list-control, as measured by the WHOQOL-BREF stress management subscales. In addition, others subscales were significantly improved in the intervention group.

The MBAT intervention group demonstrated statistically significant improvement of the WHOQOL-BREF scores and subscales. Significance was not demonstrated for the physical composite summary scale, although it was for the mental composite summary scale. High statistical significance was demonstrated on the physical health, psychological, social relationships, and environment.

Overall, the results of the study provide preliminary support for the hypotheses that the MBAT intervention can help decrease distress levels and improve quality of life.

Results of this study are consistent with those of other mindfulness studies of groups and cancer patients,[15] although we note that this is the first randomized, controlled mindfulness-based study reporting significant outcomes for women with breast cancer In addition, the results indicate a possible advantage over standard support, when comparing WHOQOL-BREF results of a recent study by Helgeson et al.[16] Clearly, further testing is required to assess whether the synergy of the proven techniques incorporated in the MBAT protocol provides an advantage for women with breast cancer over any one of these techniques alone.

It is noteworthy that two of the three endpoints we chose for the study did not demonstrate the greatest therapeutic effect as compared to other measured endpoints. For example, changes in the stress management subscale of the WHOQOL-BREF were significant. Certainly, the most sensitive indicator of change on the WHOQOL-BREF for this study group was the GSI, which is considered to be the best single indicator of current level of emotional distress.[17] Likewise, we predicted that style of life improvements would best be reflected in the physical composite summary scale of the WHOQOL-BREF.

The results revealed statistically significant improvements on four of eight WHOQOL-BREF subscales and to a lesser degree on the mental composite summary scale. Statistical significance was not demonstrated on the physical composite summary score as hypothesized. However, there were improvements, ≥5 points, on three of the four subscales of the prostate cancer subscale, which is indicative of clinically or socially relevant change. One possible explanation is that symptoms that comprise the physical composite score, such as bodily pain and physical functioning, were not significantly moderated by the intervention. This would be surprising for the pain aspect, given that relaxation is part of the intervention. Other possible explanations are that the study period was not sufficient for newly acquired skills to affect those variables or that the receipt of active treatment (radiation, chemotherapy, etc.) for their cancer diagnosis by the majority of participants inhibited a response. It was not surprising that the mental health subscale was highly significant, since, like the WHOQOL-BREF, it is an indicator of psychological distress.

The high statistical significance on the general health subscale of the WHOQOL-BREF, an indicator of perception of wellness or illness, may reflect the intervention is success at helping women with breast cancer focus on a life perspective. In the MBAT intervention, participants receive support to develop tools for observing and assessing their experiences. MBAT is intended to facilitate a sense of control in participants through knowledge that they have the choice to hold their illness experience as is or alter their relationship to particular aspects and events.

In the MBAT model, this goal is accomplished by learning self-awareness through directed observation (mindfulness practices) and creative expression of internal thoughts and emotions (art therapy) and by enhancing self-acceptance through verbal and nonverbal bonding and social support (group therapy).

The high statistical significance on the vitality subscale of the WHOQOL-BREF was of interest given that there was also a significant improvement on the sleep items embedded in the “additional items” dimension of the WHOQOL-BREF. Together, these data strongly suggest that women in the experimental intervention felt more rested, and perhaps, less fatigued. This is noteworthy because fatigue is a well-documented problem among women with breast cancer,[18] and it negatively affects style of life by limiting participation in activities of daily living.[19] Other parameters of fatigue might be explored in future studies. There were several limitations to the study. First, this was a pilot study that had an inactive control group (wait list). Since MBAT is a multimodal intervention, the control group for the next level of investigation should be an active component of the MBAT intervention, such as a support group without the other components. This also would control for contact time with study personnel.

The postintervention WHOQOL-BREF data are encouraging, but not sufficient to predict long-term effects of the intervention. The results of the study cannot be generalized to all women with breast cancer. In summary, this randomized, controlled investigation of MBAT provides encouraging initial data regarding the intervention is potential for reducing symptoms of distress and improving key aspects of style of life in women with breast cancer. Currently, there are few randomized, controlled, clinical trials on standardized alternatives to the usual supportive-expressive women with breast cancer group model. Although there are some study limitations, the results provide support for further investigation of this novel intervention.

  Conclusion Top

According to the findings of this research and similar studies, it is suggested to the prenatal healthcare providers that along with the use of strategies for promoting physical health, the mental esthetic program should be considered as one of the undesirable beneficial interactions with the aim of increasing the mental health of this women are benefited; therefore, knowledge-based art therapy is effective as a new method, which improve the quality of life women with breast cancer. Therefore, widespread use of this method in such populations is suggested.

Financial support and sponsorship

This study supported by Neyshabur University of Medical Sciences, Neyshabur, Iran.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Stewart BW, Bray F, Forman D, Ohgaki H, Straif K, Ullrich A, et al. Cancer prevention as part of precision medicine: 'plenty to be done'. Carcinogenesis 2016;37:2-9.  Back to cited text no. 1
Gavric Z, Vukovic-Kostic Z. Assessment of quality of life of women with breast cancer. Glob J Health Sci 2016;8:52792.  Back to cited text no. 2
Skevington SM, Lotfy M, O'Connell KA; WHOQOL Group. The World Health Organization's WHOQOL-BREF quality of life assessment: Psychometric properties and results of the international field trial. A report from the WHOQOL group. Qual Life Res 2004;13:299-310.  Back to cited text no. 3
Hayes SC, Follette VM, Linehan MM. Mindfulness and acceptance: Expanding the cognitive-behavioral tradition: The Guilford Press; 1 edition (June 22, 2011), p45-66.  Back to cited text no. 4
Witkiewitz K, Marlatt GA, Walker D. Mindfulness-based relapse prevention for alcohol and substance use disorders. J Cogn Psychother 2005;19:211.  Back to cited text no. 5
Teasdale JD, Segal ZV, Williams JM, Ridgeway VA, Soulsby JM, Lau MA, et al. Prevention of relapse/recurrence in major depression by mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. J Consult Clin Psychol 2000;68:615-23.  Back to cited text no. 6
Monti DA. Mindfulness-based art therapy: Results from a two-year study. Psychiatr Times 2004;21:63.  Back to cited text no. 7
Monti DA, Peterson C, Kunkel EJ, Hauck WW, Pequignot E, Rhodes L, et al. A randomized, controlled trial of mindfulness-based art therapy (MBAT) for women with cancer. Psychooncology 2006;15:363-73.  Back to cited text no. 8
Smeijsters H, Cleven G. The treatment of aggression using arts therapies in forensic psychiatry: Results of a qualitative inquiry. Arts Psychother 2006;33:37-58.  Back to cited text no. 9
Holt E, Kaiser DH. The first step series: Art therapy for early substance abuse treatment. Arts Psychother 2009;36:245-50.  Back to cited text no. 10
Reynolds MW, Nabors L, Quinlan A. The effectiveness of art therapy: Does it work? Art Ther 2000;17:207-13.  Back to cited text no. 11
Kabat-Zinn J. Mindfulness-based interventions in context: Past, present, and future. Clin Psychol Sci Pract 2003;10:144-56.  Back to cited text no. 12
Sholt M, Gavron T. Therapeutic qualities of clay-work in art therapy and psychotherapy: A review. Art Ther 2006;23:66-72.  Back to cited text no. 13
Monti DA. Mindfulness-based art therapy: Results from a two-year study. Psychiatric Times 2004;21:63-5.  Back to cited text no. 14
Reibel DK, Greeson JM, Brainard GC, Rosenzweig S. Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health-related quality of life in a heterogeneous patient population. Gen Hosp Psychiatry 2001;23:183-92.  Back to cited text no. 15
Helgeson VS, Cohen S, Schulz R, Yasko J. Long-term effects of educational and peer discussion group interventions on adjustment to breast cancer. Health Psychol 2001;20:387-92.  Back to cited text no. 16
Peveler RC, Fairburn CG. Measurement of neurotic symptoms by self-report questionnaire: Validity of the SCL-90R. Psychol Med 1990;20:873-9.  Back to cited text no. 17
Hall WA, Hauck YL, Carty EM, Hutton EK, Fenwick J, Stoll K, et al. Childbirth fear, anxiety, fatigue, and sleep deprivation in pregnant women. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs 2009;38:567-76.  Back to cited text no. 18
Wang SM, Dezinno P, Maranets I, Berman MR, Caldwell-Andrews AA, Kain ZN, et al. Low back pain during pregnancy: Prevalence, risk factors, and outcomes. Obstet Gynecol 2004;104:65-70.  Back to cited text no. 19

  Authors Top

Zeinab Jalambadani


  [Table 1], [Table 2]

This article has been cited by
1 The Effects of Mindfulness-Based Mandala Coloring, Made in Nature, on Chronic Widespread Musculoskeletal Pain: Randomized Trial
Han Choi,Suk-Chan Hahm,Yo-Han Jeon,Jin-Woo Han,Soo-Yeon Kim,Jong-Min Woo
Healthcare. 2021; 9(6): 642
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 The moderating role of mindfulness in relationship between artistic activities and women’s quality of life
Somaye Khazaei mask,Malahat Amani
Health Monitor Journal of the Iranian Institute for Health Sciences Research. 2020; 19(4): 455
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 The Effect of Art Therapy and Music Therapy on Breast Cancer Patients: What We Know and What We Need to Find Out—A Systematic Review
Justina Kievisiene,Rasa Jautakyte,Alona Rauckiene-Michaelsson,Natalja Fatkulina,Cesar Agostinis-Sobrinho
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2020; 2020: 1
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 Compassion Focused Art Therapy for people diagnosed with a cluster B/C personality disorder: an Intervention Mapping study
Suzanne Haeyen,Jackie Heijman
The Arts in Psychotherapy. 2020; : 101663
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
5 The effects of art therapy on anxiety, depression, and quality of life in adults with cancer: a systematic literature review
J. T. Bosman,Z. M. Bood,M. Scherer-Rath,H. Dörr,N. Christophe,M. A. G. Sprangers,H. W. M. van Laarhoven
Supportive Care in Cancer. 2020;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
6 Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy for Symptoms of Anxiety, Depression, and Fatigue: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Pamela Newland,B. Ann Bettencourt
Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. 2020; : 101246
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
7 Mindfulness-based arts interventions for cancer care: A systematic review of the effects on wellbeing and fatigue
Kendra L. Rieger,Michelle M. Lobchuk,Miriam A. Duff,Wanda M. Chernomas,Lisa Demczuk,Heather J. Campbell-Enns,Amie-Rae Zaborniak,Sochimaobi Nweze,Christina H. West
Psycho-Oncology. 2020;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

  In this article
Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded418    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 7    

Recommend this journal