Co-occurring pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbance comprise a common symptom cluster in patients with cancer. Treatment approaches that target the cluster of symptoms rather than just a single symptom need to be identified and tested.
To synthesize evidence regarding mind-body interventions that have shown efficacy in treating two or more symptoms in the pain-fatigue-sleep disturbance cancer symptom cluster.
A literature search was conducted using CINAHL, Medline, and PsychInfo databases through March 2009. Studies were categorized based on the type of mind-body intervention (relaxation, imagery/hypnosis, cognitive-behavioral therapy/coping skills training
[CBT/CST], meditation, music, and virtual reality), and a preliminary review was conducted with respect to efficacy for pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbance. Mind-body interventions were selected for review if there was evidence of efficacy for at least two of the three symptoms. Forty-three studies addressing five types of mind-body interventions met criteria and are summarized in this review.
Imagery/hypnosis and CBT/CST interventions have produced improvement in all the three cancer-related symptoms individually: pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbance. Relaxation has resulted in improvements in pain and sleep disturbance. Meditation interventions have demonstrated beneficial effects on fatigue and sleep disturbance. Music interventions have demonstrated efficacy for pain and fatigue. No trials were found that tested the mind-body interventions specifically for the pain-fatigue-sleep disturbance symptom cluster.
Efficacy studies are needed to test the impact of relaxation, imagery/hypnosis, CBT/CST, meditation, and music interventions in persons with cancer experiencing concurrent pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbance. These mind-body interventions could help patients manage all the symptoms in the cluster with a single treatment strategy.