Results showed that after 12 months, those who participated in the intervention increased their functioning score by 7 percent, compared to only 1 percent in the group that didnt participate.
Disease symptoms and signs and treatment side effects increased by 29 percent in those who didnt participate in the intervention, but only 14 percent in those who did take part.
These changes were big enough to be clinically important, Andersen said. When patients have better health, they have less emotional distress, better quality of life, and are more likely to follow through on their treatment.
In the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology paper, the researchers studied exactly which parts of the intervention were most helpful in improving the health and functioning of patients.
Results showed that the use of relaxation techniques was most effective in controlling stress. Learning relaxation, as well as techniques to communicate with doctors, strategies for increasing physical activity and how to deal with stress all were related with fewer symptoms and signs associated with disease.
In addition, participants who exercised as part of the intervention received a significantly higher dose of taxol their chemotherapy drug than did women who exercised less or not at all.
The actual dosage differences were substantial, Andersen said. Those who exercised regularly received 99 percent dose intensity, compared to 88 percent for those patients who were less active.
While all the women were prescribed the same relative levels of taxol, some women received less than the prescribed amount because of side effects related to taxol use, such as high fever, infections, and loss of sensation in hands and feet. Women with severe symptoms would get a reduced dose of taxol or had longer intervals between taxol treatments.
|Contact: Barbara Andersen|
Ohio State University