Within Strong Memorial Hospital, subjects were seen at the PEAK Human Performance Clinical Research Core Laboratory.
The purpose of the study was to see whether exercise can improve the health and well-being of cancer survivors and their caregivers. 42 potentially eligible subjects were asked to wear a monitor and pedometer for a week prior to their baseline assessment which included a fasting blood draw, fitness testing and computerized questionnaires. After completing baseline measures, subjects were randomized to one of two conditions (survivor and caregiver to exercise together as a dyad or survivor to exercise alone) and subjects were shown how to perform all home-based exercises. The intervention took place over a six-week period with weekly calls from a coordinator who provided updates, encouragement and reminded subjects to fill out their daily diaries. After the intervention, each subject, again, wore the monitor and pedometer for a week and then came in for their post-intervention visit, which included the same assessments as the baseline visit.
At baseline (before the intervention), lesbian and gay cancer survivors reported more depressive symptoms than their heterosexual counterparts, regardless of whether they engaged in survivor-only exercise or paired exercise with a caregiver. At post-intervention, our analyses did not detect differences in depressive symptoms between lesbian/gay and heterosexual cancer survivors, indicating that exercise may reduce disparities in depression experienced by lesbian/gay survivors. In addition, the current study indicates that dyadic exercise (i.e., including a caregiver) may reduce depressive symptoms among lesbian, gay and heterosexual cancer survivors, relative to exercise for the survivor alone.
National Cancer Institute grants K07 CA190529, R25CA102618-05, and UG1 CA189961, and by a research seed grant from the James P. Wilmot Cancer Institute.