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Experiences of breast cancer patients and helpful aspects of supportive-expressive group therapy: A qualitative study

Tânia Brandão, Rita Tavares, Marc S Schulz, Paula M Matos
European Journal of Cancer Care 2019 April 30, : e13078

OBJECTIVE: This study explored the experiences and perceived changes of breast cancer (BC) patients after participating in 16-weekly sessions of Supportive-Expressive Group Therapy (SEGT).

METHODS: A semi-structured interview adapted from Elliott's Client Change Interview was carried out with 12 women (aged 33-60 years) with BC, about 6 months after completing the treatment.

RESULTS: Content analysis identified four main themes: expectations and motivations to participate in SEGT, group processes and experiences, perceived changes enhanced by SEGT and perceptions about the therapeutic relationship. The most helpful aspects of SEGT mentioned by participants were as follows: the expression/normalisation of feelings, thoughts and reactions; the improvement of social support; and the learning opportunities obtained through sharing of experiences among participants. Additionally, participants mentioned that SEGT contributed to improve personal and social skills, such as the capacity to express emotions and the ability to establish satisfactory interpersonal relationships.

CONCLUSIONS: Based on the participants' experiences, SEGT seems to be an effective intervention to support women facing BC during the initial phase of cancer. The use of SEGT by health care professionals is encouraged, but the specific needs/problems of each group member should be carefully attended.


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