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Growing research aims at helping cancer patients in distress access most-likely-to-help self-care options, from Mindfulness training to Web-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Cred­it: UCIrvine/flickr , CC BY-NC-ND

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Mind­ful­ness in can­cer treat­ment: time to stop and think (The Con­ver­sa­tion):

Breathe deeply and focus on the moment: mind­ful­ness now appears every­where as a tech­nique to improve well-being, includ­ing in health care.

Mind­ful­ness train­ing is often sug­gest­ed for can­cer patients to reduce high lev­els of anx­i­ety and dis­tress asso­ci­at­ed with diag­no­sis, treat­ment and antic­i­pa­tion of pos­si­ble dis­ease recur­rence. But two ques­tions per­sist: does mind­ful­ness work and, if so, for whom?

Mind­ful­ness-based approach­es have been shown to be help­ful for women with breast can­cer. It is not clear why mind­ful­ness-based cog­ni­tive ther­a­py did not pro­duce mea­sur­able ben­e­fits for the men in this study. We spec­u­late the accept­abil­i­ty and use­ful­ness of mind­ful­ness may be strong­ly influ­enced by con­tex­tu­al issues, such as gen­der, age, edu­ca­tion, and per­haps even the spe­cif­ic nature of the ill­ness chal­lenge.”

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New study show­ing much promise to help both male and female can­cer patients: Web-Deliv­ered Cog­ni­tive Behav­ioral Ther­a­py for Dis­tressed Can­cer Patients: Ran­dom­ized Con­trolled Tri­al (Jour­nal of Med­ical Inter­net Research).

From the abstract:

  • Back­ground: Web-based inter­ven­tions present a poten­tial­ly cost-effec­tive approach to sup­port­ing self-man­age­ment for can­cer patients; how­ev­er, fur­ther evi­dence for accept­abil­i­ty and effec­tive­ness is need­ed.
  • Objec­tive: The goal of our research was to assess the effec­tive­ness of an indi­vid­u­al­ized Web-based cog­ni­tive behav­ioral ther­a­py (CBT) inter­ven­tion on improv­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal and qual­i­ty of life out­comes in can­cer patients with ele­vat­ed psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tress.
  • Meth­ods: A total of 163 dis­tressed can­cer patients (111 female, 68.1%) were recruit­ed through the Queens­land Can­cer Reg­istry and the Can­cer Coun­cil Queens­land Can­cer Helpline and ran­dom­ly assigned to either a Web-based tai­lored CBT inter­ven­tion (Can­cer­Cope) (79/163) or a sta­t­ic patient edu­ca­tion web­site (84/163). At base­line and 8-week fol­low-up we assessed pri­ma­ry out­comes of psy­cho­log­i­cal and can­cer-spe­cif­ic dis­tress and unmet psy­cho­log­i­cal sup­port­ive care needs and sec­ondary out­comes of pos­i­tive adjust­ment and qual­i­ty of life.
  • Con­clu­sions: This online CBT inter­ven­tion was asso­ci­at­ed with greater decreas­es in dis­tress for those patients who more close­ly adhered to the pro­gram. Giv­en the low costs and high acces­si­bil­i­ty of this inter­ven­tion approach, even if only effec­tive for sub­groups of patients, the poten­tial impact may be sub­stan­tial.

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