Jacobsen, P.B., Phillips, K.M., Jim, H.S., Small, B.J., Faul, L.A., Meade, C.D., . . . Wilson, R.W. (2013). Effects of self-directed stress management training and home-based exercise on quality of life in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy: A randomized controlled trial. Psycho-Oncology, 22, 1229–1235.doi: 10.1002/pon.3122
Evaluate the effects of stress management training and exercise, alone or in combination, on well-being, depression, and anxiety among patients during chemotherapy treatment
Patients were stratified by gender, physical activity level, treatment schedule, and whether they also were receiving radiation therapy. They then were randomly assigned to one of four groups: usual care only (UCO), exercise (EX), stress management training (SM), or exercise plus stress management training (SMEX). The SM group met with an interventionist before the first chemotherapy infusion and was provided with a 15-minute video, a booklet, and an audio recording that provided information and instructions for paced breathing, progressive muscle relaxation with guided imagery, and coping statements to manage stress. Patients were instructed on how to learn and use the techniques during chemotherapy. The EX group met with the interventionis before the first infusion and was given a video and booklet providing instructions on use of regular exercise during treatment, with an emphasis on walking. These patients also were provided with pedometers. Patients were advised to exercise for 20–30 minutes three to five times per week and were provided with heart rate targets and shown how to use pulse rate to monitor exercise intensity. The SMEX group was provided with exercise and stress management resources. All patients had the same usual care access to the full range of psychological services provided to all patients and were given information about chemotherapy with written materials. Assessments were done at baseline (T1), six weeks (T2), and 12 weeks (T3). Exercise was self-directed and home-based.
PHASE OF CARE: Active anti-tumor treatment
The SMEX group had a significant reduction in depressive symptoms compared to the UCO group (p = .048). All groups except for the UCO group showed a decrease in depressive symptoms over time. The effect size was small at its maximum (d = 0.25). BAI scores showed a positive effect in the SMEX group compared to the UCO group (p = .049). In the SMEX group, this decline occurred mainly between baseline and the first follow-up at six weeks, and then anxiety scores increased. The maximum effect size was small (d = .22). No significant differences were seen between the UCO and EX or SM groups in anxiety or depression over time. Exercise and stress management activities increased only in the SMEX group.
The combination of exercise and stress management training reduced anxiety and depressive symptoms during chemotherapy treatment. Exercise alone and stress management training alone did no show positive results. The size of the effect of SMEX was small.
Findings suggest that the combination of stress management training, using approaches such as progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery with home-based exercise delivered via video and written guidelines, had a small effect on improving anxiety and depressive symptoms among patients receiving chemotherapy. This combination was more effective than relaxation training and exercise alone. This suggests that nurses can educate patients to use both of these approaches to manage these symptoms. Effect sizes seen here were small, and the intervention consisted of a single instructional face-to-face meeting and then patient self-directed activity using resources provided. More personal time and follow-up support and encouragement during treatment sessions may increase the magnitude of the effects. Provision of videos and written materials as used here can provide a practical approach to patient education in these areas.