Guo, Z., Tang, H.Y., Li, H., Tan, S.K., Feng, K.H., Huang, Y.C., . . . Jiang, W. (2013). The benefits of psychosocial interventions for cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 11, 121.doi: 10.1186/1477-7525-11-121
Many patients with cancer experience depression and anxiety, with an associated decrease in quality of life, during radiation therapy. The main objective of the study was to determine the benefits of psychosocial interventions for these patients with cancer, concurrent with radiation therapy.
Patients in the intervention group received psychosocial care, which consisted of psychoeducation, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and supportive expressive therapy.
Patients were randomized to the intervention arm (psychoeducation, CBT, and supportive expressive therapy) or to the control arm. The control group received radiation therapy only.
An association also was made between intervention and survival.
Patients in the intervention group showed significant improvements in symptoms of depression and anxiety and health-related quality of life. They had better global health status and physical and emotional functioning and less insomnia. No difference was observed between groups in disease-free survival and overall survival.
Psychosocial interventions appear to be a cost-effective approach that can improve a patient’s mood and quality of life during and after radiation therapy.
Chinese study (possible cultural implications)
This is an important study for oncology nurses, especially radiation therapy oncology nurses, who often feel like they cannot make much impact on their patients' lives, except for checking for toxicities. Nurses have an important role in psychoeducational and supportive therapies. Some very brief strategies being taught regarding CBT and supportive expressive therapy could go a long way in helping many patients.