Can physical activity help to maintain cognitive functioning and psychosocial well-being among breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy? A randomised controlled trial: study protocol

Gokal, Kajal and Munir, Fehmidah and Wallis, Deborah and Ahmed, Samreen and Boiangiu, Ion and Kancherla, Kiran (2015) Can physical activity help to maintain cognitive functioning and psychosocial well-being among breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy? A randomised controlled trial: study protocol. BMC Public Health, 15 (1). ISSN 1471-2458

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Background: Evidence suggests chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer is associated with side effects such as
cognitive impairment in domains of memory, attention, concentration and executive function. Cognitive impairments reported by patients have been associated with higher levels of emotional distress. To date, intervention studies to alleviate cognitive impairment associated with chemotherapy have focused on psycho-educational techniques or cognitive training. Studies have not yet considered physical activity as a potential for alleviating cognitive problems. Physical activity interventions are reported to be effective in alleviating emotional distress and fatigue in those with breast cancer. They have also been reported to improve cognitive functioning in the elderly, in those suffering with dementia and in children. We propose that physical activity could also help to alleviate cognitive impairments in women diagnosed with breast cancer. The study has been designed using a recently developed taxonomy of behaviour change techniques to reliably report the content of the intervention to allow
future replication.
Method: This study will deliver a home-based moderate intensity walking intervention to women diagnosed with
breast cancer mid-way through their chemotherapy treatment and will compare them to patients receiving usual
care alone. The primary outcome measure for this intervention is changes in an objective measure of memory
assessed using the Digit Span. Secondary outcome measures include: objective measures of executive function; attention; visual spatial skills; self report cognitive function; self-report fatigue; anxiety; depression; mood and
self-esteem. As emotional distress has been associated with self-reporting of cognitive problems, this intervention
will further test whether emotional distress mediates between the amount of walking undertaken during the
intervention period and levels of self-reported cognitive functioning.
Discussion: The development of an effective intervention for preventing difficulties in emotional and cognitive
functioning of cancer patients’ post-treatment will help to guide health care professionals to improve patients’
overall quality of life. It will also provide direction for future research, ultimately to improve the day to day functioning
of breast cancer survivors.

Trial Registration: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN50709297.
Keywords: Intervention, Breast cancer, Chemotherapy, Physical activity, Exercise, Walking, Cognitive function,
Emotional distress, Psychosocial well-being

Item Type: Article
Subjects: C800 Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences > Dept. Psychology
REF UoA Output Collections > REF2021 UoA 04: Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience
Depositing User: Deborah Wallis
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2018 09:52
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2018 09:52

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