Project Summary

By 2040 there will be more than 26.1 million cancer survivors in the United States, with more than 73% of these survivors over 65 years of age. Cancer survivors, especially older adults, experience declines in brain and physical abilities or function after diagnosis. These health challenges are complicated by the natural aging process and accelerated aging incurred by cancer treatments. As a result, older adult cancer survivors and their caregivers have health declines that can be improved by a physically active lifestyle and well-balanced diet. The primary purpose of this project is to improve brain and physical function among a racially and ethnically diverse sample of 686 pairs of cancer survivors of 65 years of age or older and their caregivers—pairs known as dyads—using a randomized controlled trial. The trial will test two remotely delivered interventions, one supervised and one unsupervised, to increase exercise and adherence to a Mediterranean diet pattern. The study team will seek to examine the following aims:  

  • Aim 1: To compare the effectiveness of virtually supervised and unsupervised home-based exercise (moderate to vigorous aerobic and resistance activity) and diet (Mediterranean diet pattern) programs to each otheron cognitive and physical function for survivor-caregiver dyads who are within 12 months after survivor’s completion of cancer treatment for breast, prostate, colorectal or lung cancer—the most prevalent cancers among older adults.  
  • Aim 2: To test the processes leading to changes or maintenance in brain and physical function due to interventions.  
  • Aim 3; To examine the processes of improvement in brain and physical function between the two intervention arms for survivors and caregivers.  
  • Aim 4: To explore if the effects of supervised and unsupervised home-based exercise and diet programs on cognitive and physical function differ according to each dyad member’s sex, ethnicity, baseline body composition and comorbid conditions. 


Project Information

Christina Dieli-Conwright, Ph.D.
Tracy E. Crane, Ph.D.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
$6,789,175 *

Key Dates

60 months *
June 2023

*All proposed projects, including requested budgets and project periods, are approved subject to a programmatic and budget review by PCORI staff and the negotiation of a formal award contract.


Award Type
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: September 6, 2023