Steven Selchen – Research Grant – 2015

Steven Selchen, M.D., M.St., F.R.C.P.C., Psychiatry, Sunnybrook Research Institute

Project Title: “A Mindfulness-Based Intervention to Improve Quality of Life Among Brain Tumour Survivors”

Project Summary

Dr. Janet Ellis & Steven Selchen71% of the resources available to brain tumour survivors have minimal to no information on methods for coping with long-term outcomes. In spite of research showcasing the high rates of disabling consequences, there has been comparatively less research on therapy options for survivors. As a result, the majority of symptoms go underestimated and untreated, reducing wellness and increasing burden to the individual and their caregivers.

Recent research into novel-therapy options for survivors has resulted in a handful of papers which show some support for the effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBI) in acquired brain injury. MBIs have shown effective reduction of physical, psychosocial, emotional and cognitive deficits, and resulted in improved quality of life, in the acquired brain injury population.

This study will test the hypothesis that an 8 week MBI for brain tumour survivors will be more effective than treatment as usual in reducing depressive symptoms and mental fatigue, as well as improving quality of life.

Pictured: Steven Selchen and Dr. Janet Ellis, investigator and co-investigator

Project Update

With the collaborative efforts and support of clinicians and physicians at the Central Nervous System (CNS) Clinic, recruitment continues at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre’s Odette Cancer Centre for the Mindfulness-based Therapy for Brain Tumour Survivors study. Through this study we are identifying individuals experiencing low mood, who are (at minimum) six-months post-treatment (chemotherapy, radiation and/or surgery-only), and offering them mindfulness-based psychotherapeutic treatment in the hopes of meaningfully improving their mood.

To-date, 14 individuals have met study criteria and have participated in a five-week mindfulness-based therapy group. Ten of these 14 study-eligible individuals were able to complete treatment and provide data for the study. In order to be able to make scientifically sound conclusions about whether or not this intervention is clinically beneficial, we anticipate requiring at least another 6 individuals to participate fully in the treatment. Recruitment is therefore ongoing, with an upcoming treatment group planned for this fall.

Read the mid-term report on this research, for which recruitment is still ongoing as outlined above.

Final Update – September 2019

With the collaborative efforts and support of clinicians and physicians at the Central Nervous System (CNS) Clinic, participants were recruited from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre’s Odette Cancer Centre for the Mindfulness-based Therapy for Brain Tumour Survivors study. We identified individuals experiencing low mood, who were (at minimum) 6-months post-treatment (chemotherapy, radiation and/or surgery-only), and offered them mindfulness-based psychotherapeutic treatment in the hopes of meaningfully improving their mood.

This study focused on the efficacy of a MBI for survivors of brain tumours, measuring participants’ quality of life, depressive symptoms, mental wellbeing and perceived stress pre- and post-intervention. Upon completion of this study, a total of 19 individuals met study criteria and participated in one of three 5-week mindfulness-based therapy groups. Fourteen of these 19 study-eligible individuals (approximately 74%) were able to complete treatment and provide data for the study.

The results of the preliminary data analysis indicate that this 5-week MBI was efficacious in decreasing depressive symptoms and perceived stress, as well as improving the quality of life and mental wellbeing of participants; supporting the original hypothesis. This preliminary evaluation revealed medium-to-large clinical effects in participants, illustrating the efficacy of the MBI for reduction of psychological distress in this brain tumour survivorship group.