Meditation

Meditation

PEP Topic 
Fatigue
Description 

Meditation refers to a variety of practices to focus the mind and increase awareness. A person who is meditating may use certain techniques, such as specific postures and attention to breathing. Meditation has been examined as a way to address anxiety, cognitive impairment, depression, sleep-wake disturbances, and fatigue in patients with cancer.

Effectiveness Not Established

Research Evidence Summaries

Kim, Y.H., Kim, H.J., Ahn, S.D., Seo, Y.J., & Kim, S.H. (2013). Effects of meditation on anxiety, depression, fatigue, and quality of life of women undergoing radiation therapy for breast cancer. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 21(4), 379–387. 

doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2013.06.005
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Study Purpose:

Investigate the effects of meditation on the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and fatigue in women who were receiving radiation therapy for breast cancer

Intervention Characteristics/Basic Study Process:

The intervention group received a total of 12 meditation therapy sessions during its six-week radiation therapy period. The control group received only conventional radiation therapy. The meditation intervention was Brain Wave Vibration meditation, which is based on a Korean traditional exercise, simple movements, music, and positive messages (changing weekly). This focuses on the senses of the body, relaxing the body and mind and relieving negative thoughts through natural rhythmic movements.

Sample Characteristics:

  • N = 83    
  • MEAN AGE = 47 years
  • MALES: 0%, FEMALES: 100%
  • KEY DISEASE CHARACTERISTICS: Female patients with breast cancer undergoing breast conservation and radiation therapy with curative intent
  • OTHER KEY SAMPLE CHARACTERISTICS: Primarily married, primarily financially stable, primarily HER-2/neu negative

Setting:

  • SITE: Single site  
  • SETTING TYPE: Outpatient  
  • LOCATION: Asan Cancer Center, Seoul, Korea

Phase of Care and Clinical Applications:

  • PHASE OF CARE: Active anti-tumor treatment
  • APPLICATIONS: Elder care

Study Design:

Randomized, controlled trial

Measurement Instruments/Methods:

  • Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS)
  • Revised Piper Fatigue Scale
  • The European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire-Core 30

Results:

Patients who received meditation therapy saw mild improvements, with a reduction in anxiety and fatigue. Patients in the control group also showed significant reduction in fatigue and anxiety, and post-intervention scores actually were lower for both of these in the control group. No effect was seen for depression.

Conclusions:

The study states that an “affirmation” can be made that meditation can be used as a non-invasive intervention for improving fatigue and anxiety. However, results showed significant reductions in these symptoms for patients in the control group as well. This provides minimal support for effectiveness of the approach used here.

Limitations:

  • Small sample (< 100)
  • Risk of bias (no blinding)
  • Risk of bias (no appropriate attentional control condition)
  • Unintended interventions or applicable interventions not described that would influence results
  • Findings not generalizable
  • Intervention expensive, impractical, or training needs
  • Subject withdrawals ≥ 10%
  • Korean study, using a Korean meditation technique; likely not generalizable to the United States
  • Big impact on time
  • Not a billable service; great staff time and training involved
  • Unclear whether the meditation was in a group setting or individual; what relation did group dynamics play in a group of patients who may have met together 12 times and formed an effective peer-to-peer support group?
  • The study was underpowered by the author's calculations.
  • An intent to treat analysis was used, but how this was applied was not stated.

Nursing Implications:

Nurses likely would not have any options of referral to meditation resources. Something more generalizable, like relaxation or mindfulness, would have been a better option for a study. The study is Korean; typically educated Korean women may have had previous exposure to meditation, and the intervention would be more acceptable to them than to American women.

Milbury, K., Chaoul, A., Biegler, K., Wangyal, T., Spelman, A., Meyers, C.A., . . . Cohen, L. (2013). Tibetan sound meditation for cognitive dysfunction: Results of a randomized controlled pilot trial. Psycho-Oncology.

doi: 10.1002/pon.3296
Print

Study Purpose:

Test the effect of Tibetan sound meditation on cognitive function

Intervention Characteristics/Basic Study Process:

Patients randomly were assigned to the treatment group or a wait list control group. The intervention consisted of 12 meditation sessions that were 60 minutes long and incorporated instructions on developing breathing, awareness, and concentration skills, as well as visualization maneuvers. The intervention was offered twice a week over six weeks. A CD recording and printed materials were provided to the participants with the expectation that they practice the intervention independently at home. Objective and subjective outcome measures were evaluated at baseline and one month after completion of the intervention. Subjective measures also were completed during the last week of the intervention. Class attendance and participant satisfaction were tracked to measure the feasibility of the intervention program.

Sample Characteristics:

  • N = 42 (18/24)  
  • MEAN AGE = 53.6 years
  • MALES: 0%, FEMALES: 100%
  • KEY DISEASE CHARACTERISTICS: All subjects had breast cancer, had received chemotherapy 6–60 months prior to study participation, and were on hormonal therapy at the time of enrollment.
  • EDUCATION: Some college or higher: 95.6%, TSM: 74.9%

Setting:

  • SITE: Single-site  
  • SETTING TYPE: Outpatient  
  • LOCATION: MD Anderson Cancer Center

Phase of Care and Clinical Applications:

  • PHASE OF CARE: Late effects and survivorship
  • APPLICATIONS: Late effects and survivorship  

Study Design:

Randomized clinical trial

Measurement Instruments/Methods:

  • Digit span test
  • Digit symbol test
  • Controlled Oral Word Association Test
  • Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test
  • Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy (FACT)-Cog
  • Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D)
  • Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI)
  • Brief Fatigue Inventory (BFI)
  • Medical Outcomes Study 36-item (SF-36)
  • Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy—Spiritual Well-being Scale (FACIT-Sp)

Results:

No significant differences were seen between the intervention or control groups in either objective or subjective measures of cognitive function over time. Although significantly less depressive symptoms were found in the treatment group (p = 0.05) during the last week of the intervention, this effect was no longer significant one month later, indicating that the result was not sustainable. No significant differences between groups over time were found for fatigue or sleep-wake disturbances. Although all treatment group participants attended at least 50% of the class sessions, compliance was a variable for both class and individual participation.

Conclusions:

Findings from this study do not provide clear support for a significant effect of Tibetan sound meditation on cognitive function, fatigue, or sleep-wake disturbances. However, this intervention may have a limited, short-term effect on decreasing depression.

Limitations:

  • Small sample (< 100)
  • Risk of bias (no appropriate attentional control condition)
  • Unintended interventions or applicable interventions not described that would influence results
  • Findings not generalizable
  • Subject withdrawals ≥ 10%
  • Feasibility may be an issue, as evidenced by subject withdrawal prior to the initiation of the intervention (may indicate that the “treatment” is too burdensome) and the variability in overall treatment participation. Generalization of the result to all patients with cancer is not possible due to the population used for the study.

 

Nursing Implications:

Although this treatment was not associated with improvements in objective or subjective measures of cognitive function, it was underpowered and lacking consistent patient compliance with the intervention. Further research with larger sample sizes may be warranted to determine effectiveness.


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