A brief self-administered psychological intervention to improve well-being in patients with cancer: results from a feasibility study

Pranathi Ramachandra, Sara Booth, Thirza Pieters, Kalliopi Vrotsou, Felicia A Huppert
Psycho-oncology 2009, 18 (12): 1323-6

BACKGROUND: Patients with cancer have relatively high rates of anxiety and distress, adversely affecting their well-being and quality of life. Recent studies indicate that addressing these symptoms could result in better response to cancer treatment. Researchers have found that interventions that focus on increasing mental awareness and the frequency of positive experiences may have a greater impact on reducing psychological morbidity and increasing quality of life than interventions that target relief of psychological symptoms.

AIM: To develop and test a brief, easy to use intervention that could improve well-being and quality of life in cancer patients.

METHODS: We developed a simple well-being intervention that made few demands on patient time and required little training resource. Participants were randomly assigned to an intervention group or a deferred entry group. Measures of anxiety, depression, well-being and quality of life were administered at baseline and at follow-ups.

RESULTS: Twenty-two women with metastatic breast cancer and 24 men with metastatic prostate cancer were recruited from oncology clinics. Thirteen women and 14 men completed the study. Both qualitative and quantitative data showed that the intervention was acceptable to users. There was statistically significant improvement in quality of life scores on WHOQOL-BREF post-intervention (p=0.046). Compliance with the intervention was good.

CONCLUSIONS: This brief well-being intervention appears to be a promising technique for improving quality of life of cancer patients, without making undue demands on staff resources or patient time. If further studies confirm its effectiveness, it could prove to be a cost-effective intervention.

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