Smartphone-based meditation for myeloproliferative neoplasm patients: Feasibility study to inform future trials

Document Type



© 2020 JMIR Publications. Background: Myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) patients often report high symptom burden that persists despite the best available pharmacologic therapy. Meditation has gained popularity in recent decades as a way to manage cancer patient symptoms. Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the feasibility of 2 different consumer-based meditation smartphone apps in MPN patients and to examine the limited efficacy of smartphone-based meditation on symptoms compared with an educational control group. Methods: Patients (n=128) were recruited nationally through organizational partners and social media. Eligible and consented patients were enrolled into 1 of 4 groups, 2 of which received varying orders of 2 consumer-based apps (10% Happier and Calm) and 2 that received one of the apps alone for the second 4 weeks of the 8-week intervention after an educational control condition. Participants were asked to perform 10 min of meditation per day irrespective of the app and the order in which they received the apps. Feasibility outcomes were measured at weeks 5 and 9 with a Web-based survey. Feasibility outcomes were acceptability, demand, and limited efficacy for depression, anxiety, pain intensity, sleep disturbance, sexual function, quality of life, global health, and total symptom burden. Results: A total of 128 patients were enrolled across all 4 groups, with 73.4% (94/128) patients completing the intervention. Of the participants who completed the 10% Happier app, 61% (46/76) enjoyed it, 66% (50/76) were satisfied with the content, and 77% (59/76) would recommend to others. Of those who completed the Calm app, 83% (56/68) enjoyed it, 84% (57/68) were satisfied with the content, and 97% (66/68) would recommend to others. Of those who completed the educational control, 91% (56/61) read it, 87% (53/61) enjoyed it, and 71% (43/61) learned something. Participants who completed the 10% Happier app averaged 31 (SD 33) min/week; patients completing the Calm app averaged 71 (SD 74) min/week. 10% Happier app participants saw small effects on anxiety (P<.001 d=-0.43), depression (P=.02; d=-0.38), sleep disturbance (P=.01; d=-0.40), total symptom burden (P=.13; d=-0.27), and fatigue (P=.06; d=-0.30), and moderate effects on physical health (P<.001; d=0.52). Calm app participants saw small effects on anxiety (P=.29; d=-0.22), depression (P=.09; d=-0.29), sleep disturbance (P=.002; d=-0.47), physical health (P=.005; d=0.44), total symptom burden (P=.13; d=-0.27), and fatigue (P=.13; d=-0.27). Educational control participants (n=61) did not have effects on any patient-reported outcome except for a moderate effect on physical health (P<.001; d=0.77). Conclusions: Delivering meditation via the Calm app is feasible and scored higher in terms of feasibility when compared with the 10% Happier app. The Calm app will be used to implement a randomized controlled trial, testing the effects of meditation on symptom burden in MPNs.


Cancer, Meditation, mHealth, Mindfulness, Quality of life, Smartphone

Publication Date


Publication Title

JMIR Formative Research







Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


This document is currently not available here.