Levels of fatigue and distress in senior prostate cancer survivors enrolled in a 12-week randomized controlled trial of Qigong

J Cancer Surviv. 2014 Mar;8(1):60-9. doi: 10.1007/s11764-013-0315-5. Epub 2013 Oct 30.


Purpose: Fatigue is a commonly reported symptom by prostate cancer survivors and is associated with significant distress and declines in quality of life. Qigong is a mind-body activity that consists of both physical activity and meditative aspects. This 12-week randomized controlled trial examined the feasibility and efficacy of a Qigong intervention for improving older prostate cancer survivors' levels of fatigue and distress.

Methods: Forty older (median age = 72, range = 58-93), fatigued (cut-off value of ≥ 1 on the CTCAEv4.0, >20 on a fatigue grading scale), and sedentary (<150 min of moderate exercise/week) prostate cancer survivors were randomized to 12 weeks of Qigong or stretching classes. Primary outcomes were feasibility (i.e., retention and class attendance rates) and fatigue [Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue (FACIT-Fatigue)], and secondary outcome was distress [Brief Symptom Inventory-18 (BSI-18)].

Results: Study retention rates did not significantly differ between study groups (Qigong = 80 %, stretching = 65 %, p = 0.48). The Qigong group had significantly higher class attendance than the stretching group (p = 0.04). The Qigong group had significantly greater improvements in the FACIT-Fatigue (p = 0.02) and distress (i.e., BSI-18 Somatization, Anxiety, & Global Severity Index, p's < 0.05), than the Stretching group.

Conclusions: This 12-week Qigong intervention was feasible and potentially efficacious in improving senior prostate cancer survivors' levels of fatigue and distress levels. Future, larger definitive randomized controlled trials are needed to confirm these benefits in older prostate cancer survivors and in racially and ethnically diverse populations.

Implications for cancer survivors: Qigong may be an effective nonpharmacological intervention for the management of senior prostate cancer survivors' fatigue and distress.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / epidemiology
  • Adenocarcinoma / psychology*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ethnicity / psychology
  • Fatigue / epidemiology
  • Fatigue / therapy*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Muscle Stretching Exercises
  • Patient Compliance
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Qigong*
  • Quality of Life
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Utah / epidemiology