Experiences of using a consumer-based mobile meditation app to improve fatigue in myeloproliferative patients: Qualitative study

Jennifer Huberty, Ryan Eckert, Linda Larkey, Lynda Joeman, Ruben Mesa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background: Myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) patients suffer from long-term symptoms and reduced quality of life. Mindfulness meditation is a complementary therapy shown to be beneficial for alleviating a range of cancer-related symptoms; however, in-person meditation interventions are difficult for cancer patients to attend. Meditation via a mobile phone app represents a novel approach in MPN patients for delivering meditation. Objective: The study aimed to report MPN patients' (ie, naïve or nearly naïve meditators) perceptions of meditation and explore their experiences in the context of using a mobile phone for meditation after participation in an 8-week consumer-based meditation app feasibility study. Methods: MPN patients (n=128) were recruited nationally through organizational partners and social media. Eligible and consented patients were enrolled into 1 of 4 groups, 2 that 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 per day of mobile phone-based meditation, irrespective of the app and order in which they received the apps. At the conclusion of the study, participants were asked whether they would like to participate in a 20-min phone interview comprising 9 to 10 questions to discuss their perceptions and experiences while using the mobile phone meditation apps. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and imported into NVivo 12 (QSR International) for coding and analysis, using a combination of deductive and inductive methods to organize the data, generate categories, and develop themes and subthemes. Results: A total of 48 MPN patients completed postintervention interviews, of which 29% (14/48) of the patients only used the 10% Happier app, 21% (10/48) of the patients only used the Calm app, and 46% (22/48) of the patients used both apps during the 8-week intervention. Themes identified in the analysis of interview data related to (1) perceptions of meditation before, during, and after the study, (2) perceptions of the Calm app, (3) perceptions of the 10% Happier app, (4) perceived impacts of using the meditation apps, (5) overall experiences of participating in the study, (6) recommendations surrounding meditation for other MPN patients, and (7) plans to continue meditation. Conclusions: The qualitative findings of this study suggest that MPN patients who are naïve or nearly naïve meditators perceived mobile phone meditation as enjoyable, preferred the Calm app over the 10% Happier app, perceived the Calm app as more appealing (eg, narrator's voice and different meditations or background sounds offered), and perceived beneficial effects of meditation on mental health, sleep, fatigue, and pain. Future research is needed to better understand the efficacy of mobile phone meditation on MPN patient outcomes and meditation app design features that enhance uptake among its users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere14292
JournalJMIR Cancer
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019


  • Cancer
  • Digital health
  • MHealth
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Mobile phone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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