A virtual, group-based cognitive rehabilitation intervention was found to improve cognitive function and decrease loneliness. These findings were published in Oncology Nursing Forum.

Most patients (approximately 75%) receiving treatment for non-central nervous system malignancies report decreased cognitive function during treatment and a subset of patients (approximately 35%) continue to experience these effects for years. Some research has indicated that lifestyle factors such as physical activity, sleep, and loneliness may potentiate cognitive impairment.

To assess the feasibility of a virtual cognitive rehabilitation intervention, 37 cancer survivors who reported impaired cognitive function were recruited at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the University of Kansas Cancer Center, and the Masonic Cancer Alliance in 2020-2021. The patients attended 6 weekly virtual sessions that focused on instrumental and affective attitudes towards behaviors, perceived behavioral control, subjective norms, and intention to engage in behaviors.


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Patients were mean age 56.7 years (standard deviation [SD], 11.1), 34 participants were women, and 26 had survived breast cancer.

After the intervention, the patient’s perceived cognitive function scores were significantly improved (Z, -3.72; P =.000). Changes in perceived cognitive function were correlated with mindfulness affective attitudes (r, 0.452; P =.008) and loneliness (r, -0.376; P =.0031), and loneliness was correlated with intention to exercise (r, -0.544; P =.001).

This study was biased by a lack of diversity among study participants, and whether these findings could be generalizable to a more diverse group of patients or for survivors of all malignancies remains unclear.

However, these data indicated that a virtual cognitive intervention program was feasible and improved cognitive function scores, and decreased loneliness among patients experiencing cognitive impairments following treatment for cancer.

Reference

Myers JS, Shirazipour CH, Wertheimer JC, Asher A. Feasibility pilot study of a virtual intervention for survivors with decreased perceived cognitive function after cancer treatment. Oncol Nurs Forum. 2022;49(1):90-95. doi:10.1188/22.ONF.90-95