Goerling, U., Foerg, A., Sander, S., Schramm, N., & Schlag, P.M. (2011). The impact of short-term psycho-oncological interventions on the psychological outcome of cancer patients of a surgical-oncology department—A randomised controlled study. European Journal of Cancer, 47, 2009–2014.doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2011.04.031
To examine the influence of psycho-oncologic intervention on the psychological condition of patients with cancer
Patients, who had self-assessed regarding anxiety and depression levels, were placed in high- or low-risk groups. Participants were then randomized to either a psycho-oncologic support group or a control group. Support involved talks with a certified psychologist, who addressed development of a therapeutic relationship, supported the patient’s personal autonomy and defense mechanisms, worked to increase hopefulness and confidence, and facilitated communication between patients and providers. Patients were randomized at the time of surgery. Study measures were obtained at hospital discharge and 12 months later. The number of support sessions varied according to the length of inpatient care. High-risk groups averaged four sessions lasting an average of 41 minutes each. Low-risk patients had two or three sessions lasting an average of 40 minutes each.
Randomized controlled trial
Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), German version
The study showed statistically significant reduction of anxiety and depression in high-risk patients who had undergone psycho-oncologic intervention at the end of inpatient care (p = 0.001). At 12 months, anxiety and depression scores increased in all patients. Depression scores increased in all low-risk patients at the time of discharge.
Patients with cancer who have anxiety may benefit from psycho-oncologic support.
Postsurgical patients with cancer who are anxious may benefit from psycho-oncologic support services. In the study, the effect of the intervention was significant in only those patients who had high anxiety scores at baseline. Study findings are similar to those produced by other research. This fact may suggest that interventions for anxiety are most beneficial for individuals who have meaningful levels of anxiety to begin with. Psycho-oncologic support did not appear to affect depression scores; however, these scores were not high at baseline.