Journal of Cancer Survivorship

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 60–69 | Cite as

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

  • Rebecca A. CampoEmail author
  • Neeraj Agarwal
  • Paul C. LaStayo
  • Kathleen O’Connor
  • Lisa Pappas
  • Kenneth M. Boucher
  • Jerry Gardner
  • Sierra Smith
  • Kathleen C. Light
  • Anita Y. Kinney



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.


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)].


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.


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.


Senior prostate cancer survivors Qigong Randomized controlled trial Fatigue Distress 



A portion of this manuscript's preparation was funded by a National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) Research Fellowship in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (T-32 AT003378) at the University of North Carolina for the first author (R.A. Campo). The Qigong project was funded by a University of Utah Center on Aging Pilot Award to A.Y. Kinney and by the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. Additional support was provided by the Shared Resources (P30 CA042014) and the Linda B. and Robert B. Wiggins Wellness-Survivorship Center at Huntsman Cancer Institute. This content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding and supporting agencies. The authors have no conflicts of interest to report.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca A. Campo
    • 1
    • 8
    Email author
  • Neeraj Agarwal
    • 1
    • 2
  • Paul C. LaStayo
    • 3
  • Kathleen O’Connor
    • 1
  • Lisa Pappas
    • 4
  • Kenneth M. Boucher
    • 4
    • 5
  • Jerry Gardner
    • 6
  • Sierra Smith
    • 3
  • Kathleen C. Light
    • 7
  • Anita Y. Kinney
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Huntsman Cancer InstituteUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of Internal MedicineUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  3. 3.Department of Physical TherapyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  4. 4.Study Design and Biostatistics Center, Huntsman Cancer InstituteUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  5. 5.Department of Oncological ScienceUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  6. 6.Department of TheatreUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  7. 7.Department of AnesthesiologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  8. 8.Program on Integrative MedicineUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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