Cancer-related cognitive impairment is common following the end of adjuvant treatment and there are limited treatment options for it. We compared the sustained cognitive (primary) and psychological (secondary) effects of mantra meditation to classical music listening 8 weeks after interventions ended (Time 3) compared to baseline (Time 1).
A two-group parallel random assignment experimental design was used in a community setting. Thirty one breast cancer survivors (ages 21 to 75, received chemotherapy, and reported cognitive complaints) were randomly assigned to practice mantra meditation (n = 16) or listen to classical music (n = 15) 12 min a day for 8 weeks. No blinding was used. Repeated measures analysis of variance models were used to compare Time 1 and Time 3 data for the 26 survivors (13 per group) who completed the interventions and Time 3 data collection.
Verbal fluency (p < .001, η = 0.58), attention (p = .002, η = 0.33), immediate memory recall (p < .001, η = 0.38), perceived cognitive impairment (p < .001, η = 0.39), and quality of life (p = .001, η = 0.35) improved significantly across time for both groups. The two conditions did not differ significantly in changes across time. There were no adverse effects.
Daily mantra meditation or classical music listening may be beneficial for cognitive outcomes and quality of life of breast cancer survivors with cancer-related cognitive impairment. The cognitive benefits appear to be sustained beyond the initial intervention period. Clinical Trials Registration number: NCT03696056, recruitment status completed. The study details can be accessed at: KEY MESSAGE: There are limited treatment options for managing cancer-related cognitive impairments. Daily mantra meditation or classical music listening for 12 min a day may improve cognitive outcomes and quality of life for cancer survivors, with no negative side effects.

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