Transcendental Meditation for the improvement of health and wellbeing in community-dwelling dementia caregivers TRANSCENDENT: a randomised wait-list controlled trial
Year of Publication 2015
BACKGROUND: Dementia is a prevalent neurodegenerative disorder affecting an estimated 24.3 million people across the globe. The burden on those caring for people with dementia is substantial, with widespread implications for the caregiver, the care recipient and the community. Relaxation techniques, such as Transcendental Meditation(R) (TM), have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety in healthy workers; similar benefits are anticipated in dementia caregivers. The objective of this study was to ascertain whether TM can improve psychological stress, quality of life, affect and cognitive performance in dementia caregivers. METHODS: The study was conducted as a pilot prospective, multi-centre, community-based, randomised wait-list controlled trial. Community-dwelling caregivers of persons with diagnosed dementia were randomly assigned to a 12-week (14-hour) TM training program or wait-list control. Participants were assessed for quality of life, stress, affect, cognitive performance and adverse effects. The feasibility of the study was also evaluated. RESULTS: Seventeen caregivers were recruited and randomised. Improvements in WebNeuro response speed scores over time were significantly (p = 0.03) greater in the TM group relative to control. Changes between groups over time in all other primary and secondary outcome measures did not reach statistical significance. However, there was a trend toward greater improvement in WebNeuro stress, depression and negativity bias scores in the TM group. Adverse events were reported amongst 63 % of TM-treated subjects; however, events were generally transient, of mild-moderate intensity and only ‘possibly’ related to TM. CONCLUSIONS: Dementia caregivers exposed to TM demonstrated varying degrees of improvement in several measures of cognitive function, mood, quality of life and stress following exposure to TM. However, as the pilot study was underpowered, no firm conclusions can be made about the effectiveness of TM in this caregiver population. Findings from full-scale trials are now warranted. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry ACTRN12613000184774 (Registered 15th February 2013).