Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Symptom reduction in palliative care from single session mindful breathing: a randomised controlled trial
  1. Mei Ling Look1,2,
  2. Seng Beng Tan1,
  3. Li Li Hong1,
  4. Chong Guan Ng3,
  5. Hway Ann Yee3,
  6. Liang Yik Lim1,
  7. Diana Leh Ching Ng1,
  8. Chee Shee Chai1,
  9. Ee Chin Loh1 and
  10. Chee Loong Lam1
  1. 1Medicine, University of Malaya Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
  2. 2Palliative Unit, Hospital Selayang, Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia
  3. 3Psychological Medicine, University Malaya Medical Center, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mei Ling Look, University of Malaya Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur 68100, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia; entitylml{at}


Context There has been increasing evidence of the role of mindfulness-based interventions in improving various health conditions. However, the evidence for the use of mindfulness in the palliative care setting is still lacking.

Objectives The objective of our study was to determine the efficacy of a single session of 20 min mindful breathing in alleviating multiple symptoms in palliative care.

Methods Adult palliative care in patients with at least one symptom scoring ≥5/10 based on the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) were recruited from September 2018 to December 2018. Recruited patients were randomly assigned to either 20 min mindful breathing and standard care or standard care alone.

Results Forty patients were randomly assigned to standard care plus a 20 min mindful breathing session (n=20) or standard care alone (n=20). There was statistically significant reduction of total ESAS score in the mindful breathing group compared with the control group at minute 20 (U=98, n 1 = n 2 = 20, mean rank 1 = 15.4, mean rank 2 = 25.6, median reduction 1 = 6.5, median reduction 2 = 1.5, z=−2.763, r=0.3, p=0.005).

Conclusion Our results provided evidence that a single session of 20 min mindful breathing was effective in reducing multiple symptoms rapidly for palliative care patients.

  • symptoms and symptom management
  • psychological care
  • supportive care

Statistics from


  • Contributors The contributions of the authors are outlined below. Study design: MLL, SBT, LYL, ECL and CLL. Recruitment: MLL and LYL. Statistical analyses: MLL, SBT, LLH, CGN, HAY, DLCN and CSC. Manuscript preparation: MLL, SBT, LLH, CGN, HAY, LYL, DLCN, CSC, ECL and CLL.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Approval obtained from the Medical Ethics Committee of University of Malaya Medical Centre (MREC no: 2018936641).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request. Data are kept as hardcopy and softcopy by the authors.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.