Thursday, December 10, 2015


A new study from the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Medicine shows that participation in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program yields robust and sustained improvement in cancer-related cognitive impairment.

Cancer-related cognitive impairment -- also known as chemo brain and post-cancer cognitive fuzziness -- is a common and often debilitating condition that affects attention, memory and executive function in survivors, thus disrupting social relationships, work ability, self-confidence, and quality of life.

The Regenstrief-IU study is the first randomized clinical trial to evaluate the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on fatigued breast and colorectal cancer survivors, the majority of whom had been treated with chemotherapy. In the study, MBSR participants reported significantly greater improvement in the ability to pay attention, and also made fewer mistakes on difficult cognitive tasks than those in the control group, which received patient education materials and supportive counseling. Both groups attended eight weeks of two-hour classes led by skilled facilitators.

Retention rates in the trial exceeded 95 per cent, strongly suggesting that participants found the program to be worthwhile. Previous studies by the Regenstrief-IU research group have found MBSR to have a positive impact on post-cancer fatigue, depression and sleep disturbance.

Those who participated in the MBSR arm of the Regenstrief-IU study reported significant engagement with high rates of self-reported home practice of mindfulness techniques during the study. The majority continued to practise mindfulness throughout the six-month period following conclusion of the program.

‘More people than ever are surviving cancer due to the development of targeted and effective treatments,’ said Dr Shelley A Johns [pictured left], the clinical health psychologist and health services researcher who led the study. ‘Yet many cancer survivors are living with difficult and persistent side effects of these treatments, which can be incapacitating.’

‘Mindfulness meditation practices enable cancer survivors to better manage cancer-related cognitive impairment, reported by approximately 35 per cent of cancer survivors who have completed treatment,’ said Dr Johns, who is Assistant Professor of Medicine in IU School of Medicine's Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics and a board-certified clinical health psychologist.

Story source
. The above post is based on materials provided by Indiana University. All rights reserved.
Journal reference. Johns S A, Von Ah D, Brown L F, Beck-Coon K, Talib T L, Alyea J M, Monahan P O, Tong Y, Wilhelm L, and Giesler R B. ‘Randomized controlled pilot trial of mindfulness-based stress reduction for breast and colorectal cancer survivors: effects on cancer-related cognitive impairment.’ Journal of Cancer Survivorship, 2015; DOI: 10.1007/s11764-015-0494-3




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