BACKGROUND: Mindfulness-based interventions have shown to improve depression and anxiety symptoms as well as quality of life in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, little is known about the experiences of this group of patients participating in mindfulness interventions. This paper sets out to explore the perspectives of patients with IBD recruited to a pilot randomised controlled trial (RCT) of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) about the intervention.
METHODS: In a qualitative study nested within a parallel two-arm pilot RCT of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for patients with IBD, two focus group interviews (using the same schedule) and a free text postal survey were conducted. Data from both were analysed using thematic analysis. Data and investigator triangulation was performed to enhance confidence in the ensuing findings. Forty-four patients with IBD were recruited to the pilot RCT from gastroenterology outpatient clinics from two Scottish NHS boards. Eighteen of these patients (ten from mindfulness intervention and eight from control group) also completed a postal survey and participated in two focus groups after completing post intervention assessments.
RESULTS: The major themes that emerged from the data were the following: perceived benefits of MBCT for IBD, barriers to attending MBCT and expectations about MBCT. Participants identified MBCT as a therapeutic, educational and an inclusive process as key benefits of the intervention. Key barriers included time and travel constraints.
CONCLUSIONS: This qualitative study has demonstrated the acceptability of MBCT in a group of patients with IBD. Participants saw MBCT as a therapeutic and educational initiative that transformed their relationship with the illness. The inclusive process and shared experience of MBCT alleviated the sense of social isolation commonly associated with IBD. However, time commitment and travel were recognised as a barrier to MBCT which could potentially influence the degree of therapeutic gain from MBCT for some participants.