BACKGROUND: Mindfulness-based interventions, Tai Chi/Qigong, and Yoga (defined here as meditative cancer interventions [MCIs]) have demonstrated small to medium effects on psychosocial outcomes in female breast cancer patients. However, no summary exists of how effective these interventions are for men with cancer.
PURPOSE: A meta-analysis was performed to determine the effectiveness of MCIs on psychosocial outcomes (e.g., quality of life, depression, and posttraumatic growth) for men with cancer.
METHODS: A literature search yielded 17 randomized controlled trials (N = 666) meeting study inclusion criteria. The authors were contacted to request data for male participants in the study when not reported.
RESULTS: With the removal of one outlier, there was a small effect found in favor of MCIs across all psychosocial outcomes immediately postintervention (g = .23, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.02 to 0.44). Studies using a usual care control arm demonstrated a small effect in favor of MCIs (g = .26, 95% CI 0.10 to 0.42). However, there was insufficient evidence of a superior effect for MCIs when compared to an active control group, including attention control. Few studies examined both short-term and long-term outcomes.
CONCLUSIONS: There is evidence for MCIs improving psychosocial outcomes in male cancer survivors. However, this effect is not demonstrated when limited to studies that used active controls. The effect size found in this meta-analysis is smaller than those reported in MCI studies of mixed gender and female cancer patient populations. More rigorously designed randomized trials are needed that include active control groups, which control for attention, and long-term follow-up. There may be unique challenges for addressing the psychosocial needs of male cancer patients that future interventions should consider.