Impact of yoga on cognitive function among an ethnically diverse sample of breast cancer patients
Kolidas, Evelyn Athena
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Background: In the Bronx, New York, breast cancer is one of the most predominant cancers occurring among women which may subject them to a variety of side effects lingering after treatment. One side effect that can impact the ability of a woman to resume life roles is cognitive impairment, also known as "chemo brain." The present study sought to address cognitive functioning by examining objective and subjective cognitive function, including short-term memory and concentration and to develop a predictive model of cognitive function among an underserved, ethnically diverse sample of breast cancer patients (n=196 total sample; English speaking sample n= 163; Spanish speaking sample n=33) in Bronx, New York after the completion of a 12 week yoga intervention program. Only exploratory analyses were conducted for Spanish speaking participants. Upon completion of the initial 12 week program both intervention and control groups of English speaking participants experienced a decrease in observed cognitive impairment, however subjective cognitive impairment did not significantly change. The results suggested that the yoga intervention may not have had an effect on cognitive function. The study found that for objective cognitive function in the English speaking group, psychosocial factors did not contribute significantly to the prediction of objective cognitive function. Age, baseline cognitive function and fatigue produced the best fitting model predicting objective cognitive function (R=.550, R2 = .303, F (3,97) = 13.77, p<.001). For subjective cognitive function for ESG, it was found that the psychosocial factor of overall Quality of Life (QOL) contributed significantly to the predictive model of cognitive function beyond the contribution of socio- medical factors which include age and baseline subjective cognitive function (R=.681, R2 = .464, F (4,96) = 20.31, p<.001). The findings suggested that patients demonstrating observed cognitive impairment would benefit from more extensive neuropsychological testing to identify biological factors impacting cognitive function while patients demonstrating significant subjective cognitive impairment would benefit from thorough quality of life assessment addressing physical and emotional well-being among other factors to more clearly determine if cognitive impairment is present. Further research into predictors and preventive and rehabilitative interventions would be vital to the overall quality of life.