The diagnosis of a brain tumor (i.e., glioma) and its treatment tends to be difficult for not only patients but also their families. As patients with brain tumors face a poor prognosis and high symptom burden, family members play a vital role in offering ongoing emotional support and physical care. Although family caregivers want to provide quality care to their loved one, caring for a loved one with brain cancer is emotionally and physically taxing, and caregivers report high prevalence rates of psychological distress, fatigue, and sleep disturbances, which may undermine the quality of care they are able to provide to the patient. Consequently, there is a high need to develop supportive care programs that teach caregivers effective self-care behaviors and skills to manage their own symptoms. Mind-body interventions (e.g., yoga, meditation, tai chi) have been shown to improve the QOL of cancer patients, but little is known whether these types of interventions are feasible and efficacious in improving caregiver burden. Moreover, there is reason to believe that delivering a supportive care intervention to both caregivers and patients together may be advantageous regarding study feasibility as well as treatment efficacy. Thus, the proposed investigation will examine the role of a yoga program in managing QOL in caregiver-patient dyads. Dyads will be randomly assigned to either a caregiver-only yoga, a caregiver-patient dyadic yoga or a waitlist control group. Prior to randomization, caregivers and patients will complete standard QOL and symptom self-report measures. Caregiver and patient healthcare utilization data will also be collected. Feasibility data will be documented (e.g., consent, attrition, adherence) throughout. Participants in the yoga groups will receive 15 practice sessions (45 min each). We will incorporate the interventions into patients' radiation treatment (RT) plans as the yoga programs may be especially useful at this time to buffer symptom burden that ensues. These data allow us to address two fundamental questions: 1) is it feasible to implement a randomized controlled trial of a caregiver and dyadic yoga intervention involving caregivers and brain tumor patients undergoing radiotherapy? And, 2) is there preliminary evidence of treatment efficacy in regard to QOL outcomes of a dyadic versus caregiver-only intervention compared to a waitlist control group? We will use these data to determine if a future, larger study is warranted. This project represents a major step towards managing QOL in families coping with a life threatening disease.

Public Health Relevance

This project will examine the feasibility and initial effectiveness of a caregiver yoga intervention on quality of life, symptom and heath are utilization outcomes in caregivers as well as their loved one diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Moreover, we will examine if it is more feasible and beneficial to deliver the intervention to both caregivers and patients together as opposed to caregivers alone.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Mollica, Michelle A
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University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Internal Medicine/Medicine
United States
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