Some people undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer experience chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment (CRCI). CRCI can manifest as decreased information processing speed, confusion, executive function decline, and verbal memory decline, and it can affect both short-term and long-term recovery, as well as quality of life.

Therefore, a team of researchers in China sought to evaluate audiovisual vs multisensory stimulation training as interventions to reduce the effects of CRCI. For their study, 80 patients with breast cancer who were receiving chemotherapy at a hospital in Tangshan City were recruited. Their findings were published in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing.

The patients were randomly assigned to either an audiovisual group, which functioned as the control group, or a multisensory intervention group. The patients in the audiovisual group received training that incorporated 3 modules: photo-name matching, listen and link, and sequence memory.


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The multisensory group interventions also included tactile training with objects, scalp tactile stimulation, and olfactory stimulation training exercises.  For example, during one of the olfactory interventions, a nurse would light a lavender-scented candle during bedtime preparations as the patient also listened to relaxing music.

The Rivermead Behavioural Memory Test (RBMT-II) and the Behavioural Assessment of the Dysexecutive Syndrome (BADS) were used to assess CRCI and executive functioning in each participant before the stimulation training and after 4 cycles of training. Those in the multisensory intervention group scored higher on both.

“The current study shows that multisensory stimulation training was more robust and provided better results than audiovisual training alone,” the researchers concluded. “It provides a new rehabilitation theory base and clinical application methods for patients with breast cancer experiencing CRCI.”

Nurses considering multisensory training should know that this type of intervention is not only easy to understand and enjoyable for patients, but it also can reduce the mental and psychological stress on their patients and improve their quality of life. “This intervention can broaden the breadth and depth of the nursing profession, make nursing work more professional, reflect the value of nursing and accelerate the development of tumor rehabilitation,” the researchers noted.

The study included only 80 breast cancer patients between the ages of 18 and 60, and all received their chemotherapy in hospital. However, some patients with breast cancer receive chemotherapy on an outpatient basis, limiting the generalizability of these results.

Reference

Li Z, Hao X, Lei P, et al. Patients with breast cancer receiving chemotherapy: effects of multi-sensory stimulation training on cognitive impairment. Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2022;26(1):71-77. doi:10.1188/22.CJON.71-77