Secondary outcomes from a published feasibility and acceptability trial were examined to explore the effect of bright white light (BWL) on quality of life (QoL) and depressive symptoms compared to dim red light (DRL) control in adolescents and young adults (AYAs) receiving cancer-directed therapy.
Fifty-one AYAs (12–22 years, 51% male) newly diagnosed with cancer were randomized to receive 8 weeks of BWL (n = 26) or DRL (n = 25). The CDI-2 (total score, negative mood/physical symptoms, interpersonal problems, ineffectiveness, and negative self-esteem) and parent- and self-report PedsQL (total score and subscales of physical, emotional, social, and school QoL) were completed at multiple timepoints.
BWL produced improvements in self-reported total depression (d = −.64; 95% confidence interval [CI] = −1.26, −0.01), negative self-esteem (d = −.80; 95% CI = −1.43, −.14), negative mood/physical symptoms (d = −.73; 95% CI = −1.36, −0.08), ineffectiveness (d = −.43; 95% CI = −1.04, .19), total self-reported QoL (d = .41; 95% CI = −.16, .96), emotional (d = .78; 95% CI = .19, 1.37), school functioning (d = .48; 95% CI = −.09, 1.04), and parent-reported school functioning (d = .66; 95% CI = 0.02, 1.33). BWL reported a greater rate of improvement than DRL for total depression (β = .49, p < .05) and self-esteem (β = .44, p < .05), and parent-reported school functioning (β = −1.68, p < .05).
BWL improved QoL and depressive symptoms for AYAs with cancer. These findings will inform larger randomized controlled trials.