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University of Colorado Cancer Center Study Shows That Problem-Solving Training Helps Mothers Cope with Child’s Cancer Diagnosis
Date:2/12/2013

from an understanding ear evaporated. In fact, at the three-month mark, the benefits from problem-solving skills training were growing – not only were mothers more adept problem-solvers, but this increased ability transferred to ever-more gains in mood, decreased anxiety and fewer symptoms of posttraumatic stress.

You know the phrase, If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. In this study, it was as if Bright IDEAS taught mothers to fish – not only helping mothers, but helping mothers learn to help themselves.

“I’ve been a cancer patient myself,” Fairclough says, “and I think the most stressing thing is that there’s a sense that the disease has taken over your life. It defines your schedule, your family vacations, you can’t change employers because of insurance concerns. I think problem-solving skills training helps mothers pull back some control after their child’s diagnosis. It makes things seem manageable and gives parents a sense they’re not just helpless observers.”

The group also includes members from the University of Rochester, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas El Paso, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. To date, the training has required eight weekly individual meetings between a mother and her trainer. This approach, while successful, is resource intensive. This past summer, the research group received funding from the National Cancer Institute to develop a web-based version to make Bright IDEAS available anytime, wherever a parent or other caregiver has access to the Internet.

For more information and free downloads of the 8-session training, including instruction manuals, workbooks and worksheets in English and Spanish, visit the Research-Tested Intervention Programs page hosted by the National Cancer Institute or contact
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