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    Awarded Grants
    Being Well, Staying Healthy: An Integrated Mind-Body Medicine Intervention to Decrease Fatigue Among Breast Cancer Survivors

    Scientific Abstract:
    Fatigue is a common and often persistent symptom following the treatment of breast cancer, challenging a woman’s ability to regain her overall health and well-being. The overall aim of this study is to design and evaluate an integrated mind-body medicine intervention to reduce symptoms of fatigue among breast cancer survivors. We will develop and conduct an initial assessment of an integrated mind-body medicine approach to decrease symptoms of fatigue among breast cancer survivors in two diverse settings: a community hospital breast center that serves a racially and socio-economically diverse urban population and a rural county hospital cancer center that serves a socio-economically and educationally diverse population. The intervention will be patterned after the Mind Body Medicine Program developed by Dr. Herbert Benson. Aim 1: Pilot test a 10-week mind-body medicine group intervention among 4 groups of breast cancer survivors with 5 women per group: Inner city African American and White women and two groups of rural women stratified by educational status. Aim 2: Conduct and evaluate (using a before/after design) the efficacy of the refined 10-week integrated mind-body medicine approach to reduce symptoms of fatigue among breast cancer survivors who have completed their adjuvant therapy. 4 intervention groups (patterned on the pilot test groups) will be conducted with 10 women per group. We will assess the change in symptoms from baseline at 3 time points: immediately after the program, 2 months and 6 months following completion of the program. Ultimately, the goal is to conduct a randomized trial to evaluate the efficacy of the holistic mind body medicine approach for reducing fatigue versus more traditional exercise-focused interventions. The quality of life of breast cancer survivors may be severely impacted by persistent fatigue. Approaches that lead to long lasting improvements in this problem will help women regain their overall well-being, helping them to stay healthy.

    Lay Abstract:
    Fatigue following the treatment for breast cancer is common among breast cancer survivors and may persist for years. Persistent fatigue can have a devastating effect on work- and home-life, impeding a woman’s ability to regain her overall health and well being. Few interventions have been proven to be beneficial and most have focused mainly on exercise. We propose to develop and evaluate a holistic mind-body medicine approach to decreasing the symptoms of fatigue among women with breast cancer. We will design approaches for both an urban, inner city population and a rural population, patterned after a program developed by Dr. Herbert Benson. The mind-body medicine is a holistic approach, incorporating various relaxation techniques with more traditional medical and educational approaches. We will develop these approaches to meet the needs of women who live in the inner city and in rural areas and who may differ by race or education. The 10-week intervention program will be developed with input from 4 groups of women: breast cancer survivors who are white and black and live in an inner city/urban environment and breast cancer survivors from a rural county with differing levels of education. After we have refined the program we will recruit breast cancer survivors for the 10-week intervention program, working with community-based local breast cancer centers and breast cancer patient support groups. Each group will have 10 women and we will conduct 4 intervention groups: two in the city and two in the rural county. We will study the change in fatigue symptoms before the program, immediately after, 2 moths later and 6 months later. If the results from this study are promising we will test this holistic approach in a larger study to see if it is better than more common exercise-based approaches. Fatigue is a common and often devastating persistent problem among women who have had breast cancer. Approaches that lead to long lasting improvements in this problem will help women regain their overall well-being and improve their quality of life.