The MATCH Study
As more people survive cancer, the importance of research on effective interventions for improving quality of life amongst survivors is growing. Two interventions with a substantial evidence-base are Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery (MBCR) and Tai chi/Qigong (TCQ). However, these interventions have never been directly compared and they may help cancer patients in different ways.
MBCR focuses primarily on the challenges faced by people living with cancer. Different forms of meditation are introduced, beginning with a body scan and sensory awareness experience and progressing to sitting and walking meditations over the course of the program. Gentle Hatha yoga is incorporated throughout, as a form of moving meditation. Facilitator instruction, group discussion and reflection, problem solving, and skillful inquiry are also used.
Tai chi involves a series of slow specific movements or “forms” done in a meditative fashion to bring about a state of mental calm and clarity. Qigong exercises generally have three components: a posture (moving or stationary), breathing techniques, and mental focus on guiding chi/qi through the body. TCQ incorporates simple Tai Chi elements within a healing framework stemming from Qigong principles.
In order to participate you must:
- Be over the age of 18
- Have been diagnosed with any type of cancer (stage I-III) except brain
- Have completed active treatment (i.e. surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy) at least 4 months previously (ongoing hormonal therapies, AIs, tamoxifen, herceptin does not preclude)
- Be able to attend classes at scheduled times
- Have sufficient functional capacity to participate (judged by PAR-Q questionnaire, study staff, participant and participant’s physician)
- Be able to speak, read, and write English sufficiently to participate in all activities.
You are unable to participate if you are experiencing any of the following:
- Your cancer is metastatic or you are currently on chemotherapy.
- You currently engage in meditation or tai chi one or more times per week
- You have participated in the MBCR program in the past.
What is required of participants?
- Indicate whether you have a strong preference for taking either mindfulness or tai chi/qigoing classes. If you have a preference you will get the group that you want. If you don’t have a preference, we will assign you to one or the other randomly, like the flip of a coin
- Once you are assigned to a group, you will either start within a week or two, or wait three-four months to start – we will tell you how long you are assigned to wait.
- Before the group sessions begin, we will ask you to come into the cancer centre to complete a package of questionnaires on the computer (or on paper), which will take about 30-45 minutes. Then we will measure your blood pressure and heart rate for about 20 minutes, and conduct a few simple tests of your flexibility, balance and strength. Finally you will visit the lab either that day or over the next week, and have three small (10mL) tubes of blood drawn for later analysis.
- Before your classes start, you will also collect saliva (spit) samples in little tubes at home, four times a day over three days.
- Your classes will either begin shortly after that, or you will wait 3-4 months for the next class. If you are waiting, you will fill out the questionnaires and do the other tests one more time before your classes begin.
- When your classes begin, they will occur once weekly for 9-11 weeks (depending on your group). Classes will be held at the Holy Cross Site of Cancer Control Alberta.
- After completing your classes, you will once again complete the same questionnaires either online at home, or on paper, and visit the hospital again for the 20 minute blood pressure test, balance, strength and flexibility tests, and to provide another 2 tubes of blood.
- 6 months later, you will once again complete the questionnaires, blood pressure test, balance, flexibility and strength tests and provide 2 tubes of blood at the lab.
To learn more or sign up for the study, please visit The MATCH Study website.