Korstjens, I., Mesters, I., May, A.M., van Weert, E., van den Hout, J.H., Ros, W., . . . van den Borne, B. (2011). Effects of cancer rehabilitation on problem-solving, anxiety and depression: A RCT comparing physical and cognitive-behavioural training versus physical training. Psychology and Health, 26(Suppl. 1), 63–82.doi: 10.1080/08870441003611569
To examine the effects of physical therapy (PT) versus physical therapy plus cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) interventions on problem solving, anxiety, and depression in patients with cancer
Consecutive groups of patients referred to rehabilitation centers were randomly assigned to receive either PT or PT and CBT programs for 12 weeks. PT consisted of twice weekly two-hour sessions of aerobic training, muscle-strength training, and group sports and games. CBT sessions were provided in a group format in which participants learned to apply self-management skills in striving for personal goals. Psychologists gathered self-evaluations regarding the extent to which patients adhered to the intervention protocol, and the process was evaluated via case records. Study measures were obtained at baseline, 12 weeks postrehabilitation, and three and nine months postintervention. After week 6, patients started a home-based walking program.
Prospective, single-blinded, randomized, two-group trial design
Overall baseline anxiety and depression scores of participants were significantly higher than those in the general Dutch population (p < 0.001). Immediately after the 12-week program, both groups showed small to moderate effect-size reduction in anxiety (0.45–0.55 [p < 0.001]) and depression (0.44–0.59 [p < 0.001]). At three and nine months, average effects, as measured by HADS score, continued to be lower than baseline, with effect sizes ranging from 0.24 to 0.4. Participants in both groups showed comparable changes in problem solving, anxiety, and depression. Subgroup analysis between those with initially higher and lower levels of distress showed no difference in changes in problem solving. Patients with higher distress, in both intervention groups, showed significant reduction in anxiety (p < 0.01) and depression (p < 0.01) at all study time points. At all measurement points, patients with lower distress at baseline showed levels of distress in keeping with those of the general population.
Study findings did not show that the addition of CBT to PT resulted in effects on problem solving, anxiety, or depression that were greater than the effects of PT alone. Findings did not support the hypothesis that the addition of CBT would be of greater benefit for individuals who had higher distress levels initially. Study findings show beneficial effects of PT on anxiety and depression.
Findings if this study support other findings regarding beneficial effects of physical activity in a supervised group setting. Findings of this study suggest that the addition of specific CBT interventions may not increase these effects. Analysis of results in those who had high versus low levels of distress demonstrates that those with low distress do not show a benefit.