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Psychosocial interventions that mitigate psychosocial distress in cancer patients are important. The primary aim of this study was to examine the feasibility and acceptability of an adaptation of the Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) program among adult cancer patients. A secondary aim was to examine pre–post-program changes in psychosocial wellbeing.
The research design was a feasibility and acceptability study, with an examination of pre- to post-intervention changes in psychosocial measures. A study information pack was posted to 173 adult cancer patients 6 months–5 years post-diagnosis, with an invitation to attend an eight-week group-based adaptation of the MSC program.
Thirty-two (19%) consented to the program, with 30 commencing. Twenty-seven completed the program (mean age: 62.93 years, SD 14.04; 17 [63%] female), attending a mean 6.93 (SD 1.11) group sessions. There were no significant differences in medico-demographic factors between program-completers and those who did not consent. However, there was a trend toward shorter time since diagnosis in the program-completers group. Program-completers rated the program highly regarding content, relevance to the concerns of cancer patients, and the likelihood of recommending the program to other cancer patients. Sixty-three percent perceived that their mental wellbeing had improved from pre- to post-program; none perceived a deterioration in mental wellbeing. Small-to-medium effects were observed for depressive symptoms, fear of cancer recurrence, stress, loneliness, body image satisfaction, mindfulness, and self-compassion.
Significance of results
The MSC program appears feasible and acceptable to adults diagnosed with non-advanced cancer. The preliminary estimates of effect sizes in this sample suggest that participation in the program was associated with improvements in psychosocial wellbeing. Collectively, these findings suggest that there may be value in conducting an adequately powered randomized controlled trial to determine the efficacy of the MSC program in enhancing the psychosocial wellbeing of cancer patients.
Meaning and Purpose (MaP) therapy aims to enhance meaning-based coping through a life review that focuses on the value and worth of the person, key relationships, sources of fulfillment, roles, and future priorities in living life out fully. We sought to test the feasibility and acceptability of a six-session model of MaP therapy against a wait-list control cohort in a pilot study seeking effect sizes on measures of adaptation.
We randomized patients with advanced cancer to MaP therapy or wait-list control, with measures administered at baseline and after 6–8 weeks. Wait-list patients could then crossover to receive therapy, with further measures collected postintervention. Adherence to the manualized model was sustained through weekly supervision and fidelity coding of recorded sessions. We used generalized estimating equations to control for baseline and any correlation of data.
From 134 eligible participants, 57 (43%) consented, and 40 of 45 (89%) offered therapy completed 6 sessions. Key barriers to consenting patients were poor health (15 refusers and 4 withdrawals) and death intervened in 6 participants. MaP therapy generated adequate effect sizes in posttraumatic growth (new possibilities, appreciation of life, and personal strength) and life attitudes (choices and goal seeking) to permit calculation of power for a formal randomized, controlled trial.
Significance of results
Delivery of this model of existentially oriented therapy is feasible and acceptable to patients. A properly powered randomized controlled trial is justified to examine the efficacy of this intervention.
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