Mindfulness, Experiential Avoidance, and Recovery from Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation

Anna G. Larson, Keayra J. Morris, Mark B. Juckett, Christopher L. Coe, Aimee T. Broman, Erin S. Costanzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: Mood disturbance, pain, and fatigue are prevalent and distressing concerns for patients with hematologic cancer recovering from hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). The way in which individuals approach difficult thoughts and emotions may affect symptoms and functioning. Specifically, mindfulness has been associated with more optimal psychological and physical functioning, whereas experiential avoidance has been associated with poorer outcomes. Purpose: The primary objective was to determine whether mindfulness and experiential avoidance measured prior to HSCT were associated with recovery of psychological and physical functioning following HSCT. We also evaluated dimensions of mindfulness to determine which were most robustly associated with outcomes. Methods: Participants completed measures of mindfulness and experiential avoidance prior to HSCT. Depression and anxiety symptoms and pain and fatigue interference with daily activities were assessed prior to HSCT and 1, 3, and 6 months post-HSCT. Results: Participants who reported better ability to describe their internal experiences and who were better able to act with awareness experienced less depression, anxiety, and fatigue interference following HSCT. Participants who were nonjudgmental and nonreactive toward thoughts and emotions experienced less depression and anxiety following HSCT, but these traits were not associated with pain or fatigue interference. Being a good observer of internal experiences was not associated with outcomes, nor was experiential avoidance. Conclusions: Results suggest that most facets of mindfulness may optimize psychological functioning following HSCT, and the ability to describe one's internal experience and to focus on the present moment may have a beneficial influence on physical functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)886-895
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Apr 5 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding This research was supported by grants K07 CA136966 and R21 CA133343 (to E.  S. Costanzo) and P30 CA014520 (UW Carbone Cancer Center Support Grant) from the National Cancer Institute (NCI); the Clinical and Translational Science (CTSA) program through the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) grant UL1 TR000427; the Forward Lymphoma Foundation; and a Hilldale Undergraduate Research Award (to A. G. Larson and E. S. Costanzo).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Society of Behavioral Medicine 2019. All rights reserved.


  • Depression
  • Experiential avoidance
  • Fatigue
  • Hematopoietic stem cell transplant
  • Mindfulness
  • Pain


Dive into the research topics of 'Mindfulness, Experiential Avoidance, and Recovery from Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this