Biobehavioral effects of Tai Chi Qigong in men with prostate cancer: Study design of a three-arm randomized clinical trial

Anita Y Kinney, Cindy K Blair, Dolores D Guest, Julianne K Ani, Elizabeth M Harding, Fabiano Amorim, Tawny Boyce, Joseph Rodman, C Graham Ford, Matthew Schwartz, Larissa Rosenberg, Olivia Foran, Jerry Gardner, Yong Lin, Wadih Arap, Michael R Irwin
Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications 2019, 16: 100431

Fatigue is often one of the most commonly reported symptoms in prostate cancer survivors, but it is also one of the least understood cancer-related symptoms. Fatigue is associated with psychological distress, disruptions in sleep quality, and impairments in health-related quality of life. Moreover, inflammatory processes and changes related to the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and/or autonomic nervous system may also play a role in cancer-related fatigue. Thus, effective treatments for fatigue in prostate cancer survivors represent a current unmet need. Prior research has shown that Tai Chi Qigong, a mind-body exercise intervention, can improve physical and emotional health. Herein, we describe the protocol of the ongoing 3-arm randomized controlled Health Empowerment & Recovery Outcomes (HERO) clincal trial. One hundred sixty-six prostate cancer survivors with fatigue are randomized to a modified Tai Chi Qigong intervention (TCQ), intensity-matched body training intervention (BT), or usual care (UC) condition. Guided by biopsychosocial and psychoneuroimmunology models, we propose that TCQ, as compared to BT or UC will: i) reduce fatigue (primary outcome) in prostate cancer survivors; ii) reduce inflammation; and iii) regulate the expression of genes from two major functional clusters: a) inflammation, vasodilation and metabolite sensing and b) energy and adrenergic activation. Assessments are conducted at baseline, the 6-week midpoint of the intervention, and 1 week, 3 months, and 12 months post-intervention. If our findings show that TCQ promotes recovery from prostate cancer and its treatment, this type of intervention can be integrated into survivorship care plans as the standard of care. The study's findings will also provide novel information about underlying biobehavioral mechanisms of cancer-related fatigue.

Trial registration number: NCT03326713;

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