COLUMBUS, Ohio Psychological interventions for cancer patients do more than just ease emotional distress they directly improve health, new research suggests.
A study of 227 breast cancer patients found that those who participated in a psychological intervention program were rated as having better health by a research nurse a full year after the program started.
One particularly important result was that patients who exercised received a higher dose of their chemotherapy drug, possibly improving their overall treatment.
Patients who participated in the program showed fewer and less severe symptoms, and functioned better than those who didnt take part, said Barbara Andersen, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at Ohio State University.
These were independent health evaluations by nurses who didnt know which patients were participating in the psychological intervention, so we know the effects were real and significant.
The results were reported in recent issues of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology and Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.
Participants in the study were breast cancer patients at the Ohio State University Medical Center. All had been diagnosed with Stage II or Stage III breast cancer, had received mastectomies, and underwent chemotherapy during the course of the study.
Half the patients received the intervention, in which they met weekly in groups of 8 to 12 with a clinical psychologist. These sessions, which lasted four months, included training on relaxation and coping with stress, strategies to improve health behaviors, information on the value of exercise, communication skills for dealing with physicians, and other related issues. After four months of these weekly meetings, participants met monthly for another eight months.
At the beginning of the study, and again at 4 and 12 months, trained research nurses evaluated the participants health and ph
|Contact: Barbara Andersen|
Ohio State University