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The objectives of this study were to evaluate, in the Italian cultural context, breast cancer patients’ main meaning themes related to the experience of the disease, on the one side, and to be part of an existentially oriented group intervention, on the other.
A short reorientation-existential (RET) group intervention, structured by using some tools and background from cognitive analytic therapy (CAT) and based on the meaning-centered psychotherapy (MCP) existential framework, was delivered to 29 breast cancer patients. The sessions were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim, with the narratives from reflective exercises (meaning of the journey cancer, meaning of the journey of intervention) uploaded to computer software NVivo 11. Analysis of the transcripts emerged from reflective exercises on the personal meaning of cancer and the letters of meaning (goodbye letter) written by the patients to express the meaning of their experience in the group was conducted through the interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) framework.
Four superordinate themes were identified in the exercise meaning of the experience of cancer, namely “sense of stigma and loneliness (the foreigner),” “guilt (unjust guilt and anticipatory guilt),” “reconsidering one's own life and nostalgia,” and “rebirth (a new life, life after life).” Three superordinate themes were found in the meaning of the group experience in the letters, namely “togetherness and gratitude,” “legacy,” and “acceptance.”
Significance of results
The study confirmed that a short group intervention, based on the existentially oriented framework and delivered in a public clinical healthcare setting, was enriched by focusing on the personal meaning of cancer. Some themes, such as loneliness, nostalgia, and rebirth, emerged during reflection giving, in written letters to participants, the sense of the group therapeutic experience.
Greater levels of insight may be linked with depressive symptoms among patients with schizophrenia, however, it would be useful to characterize this association at symptom-level, in order to inform research on interventions.
Data on depressive symptoms (Calgary Depression Scale for Schizophrenia) and insight (G12 item from the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale) were obtained from 921 community-dwelling, clinically-stable individuals with a DSM-IV diagnosis of schizophrenia, recruited in a nationwide multicenter study. Network analysis was used to explore the most relevant connections between insight and depressive symptoms, including potential confounders in the model (neurocognitive and social-cognitive functioning, positive, negative and disorganization symptoms, extrapyramidal symptoms, hostility, internalized stigma, and perceived discrimination). Bayesian network analysis was used to estimate a directed acyclic graph (DAG) while investigating the most likely direction of the putative causal association between insight and depression.
After adjusting for confounders, better levels of insight were associated with greater self-depreciation, pathological guilt, morning depression and suicidal ideation. No difference in global network structure was detected for socioeconomic status, service engagement or illness severity. The DAG confirmed the presence of an association between greater insight and self-depreciation, suggesting the more probable causal direction was from insight to depressive symptoms.
In schizophrenia, better levels of insight may cause self-depreciation and, possibly, other depressive symptoms. Person-centered and narrative psychotherapeutic approaches may be particularly fit to improve patient insight without dampening self-esteem.
Late-life depression is often associated with cognitive impairments and disability, which may persist even after adequate antidepressant drug treatment. Physical exercise is increasingly recognized as an effective antidepressant agent, and may exert positive effects on these features too. However, few studies examined this issue, especially by comparing different types of exercises.
We performed secondary analyses on data from the Safety and Efficacy of Exercise for Depression in Seniors study, a trial comparing the antidepressant effectiveness of sertraline (S), sertraline plus thrice-weekly non-progressive exercise (S+NPE), and sertraline plus thrice-weekly progressive aerobic exercise (S+PAE). Exercise was conducted in small groups and monitored by heart rate meters. Patients with late-life depression without severe cognitive impairment were recruited from primary care and assessed at baseline and 24 weeks, using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MOCA, total and subdomain scores) and Brief Disability Questionnaire. Analyses were based on Generalized Linear Models.
In total, 121 patients (mean age 75, 71% females) were randomized to the study interventions. Compared with the S group, patients in the S+PAE group displayed greater improvements of MOCA total scores (p=0.006, effect size=0.37), visuospatial/executive functions (p=0.001, effect size=0.13), and disability (p=0.02, effect size=−0.31). Participants in the S+NPE group did not display significant differences with the control group.
Adding aerobic, progressive exercise to antidepressant drug treatment may offer significant advantages over standard treatment for cognitive abilities and disability. These findings suggest that even among older patients exercise may constitute a valid therapeutic measure to improve patients’ outcomes.
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