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To determine the preliminary feasibility, acceptability, and effects of Meaning-Centered Grief Therapy (MCGT) for parents who lost a child to cancer.
Parents who lost a child to cancer and who were between six months and six years after loss and reporting elevated levels of prolonged grief were enrolled in open trials of MCGT, a manualized, one-on-one cognitive-behavioral-existential intervention that used psychoeducation, experiential exercises, and structured discussion to explore themes related to meaning, identity, purpose, and legacy. Parents completed 16 weekly sessions, 60–90 minutes in length, either in person or through videoconferencing. Parents were administered measures of prolonged grief disorder symptoms, meaning in life, and other assessments of psychological adjustment preintervention, mid-intervention, postintervention, and at three months postintervention. Descriptive data from both the in-person and videoconferencing open trial were pooled.
Eight of 11 (72%) enrolled parents started the MCGT intervention, and six of eight (75%) participants completed all 16 sessions. Participants provided positive feedback about MCGT. Results showed postintervention longitudinal improvements in prolonged grief (d = 1.70), sense of meaning (d = 2.11), depression (d = 0.84), hopelessness (d = 1.01), continuing bonds with their child (d = 1.26), posttraumatic growth (ds = 0.29–1.33), positive affect (d = 0.99), and various health-related quality of life domains (d = 0.46–0.71). Most treatment gains were either maintained or increased at the three-month follow-up assessment.
Significance of results
Overall, preliminary data suggest that this 16-session, manualized cognitive-behavioral-existential intervention is feasible, acceptable, and associated with transdiagnostic improvements in psychological functioning among parents who have lost a child to cancer. Future research should examine MCGT with a larger sample in a randomized controlled trial.
The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy of meaning-centered group psychotherapy for cancer survivors (MCGP-CS) to improve personal meaning, compared with supportive group psychotherapy (SGP) and care as usual (CAU).
A total of 170 cancer survivors were randomly assigned to one of the three study arms: MCGP-CS (n = 57); SGP (n = 56); CAU (n = 57). The primary outcome measure was the Personal Meaning Profile (PMP; total score). Secondary outcome measures were subscales of the PMP, psychological well-being (Scales of Psychological Well-being; SPWB), post-traumatic growth (Posttraumatic Growth Inventory), Mental Adjustment to Cancer (MAC), optimism (Life Orientation Test-Revised), hopelessness (Beck's Hopelessness Scale), psychological distress (anxiety and depression, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale; HADS) and quality of life (European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire; EORTC QLQ-C30). Outcome measures were assessed before randomization, post-intervention, and after 3 and 6 months of follow-up (FU).
Linear mixed model analyses (intention-to-treat) showed significant differences between MCGP-CS, SGP and CAU on the total PMP score, and on (sub)scales of the PMP, SPWB, MAC and HADS. Post-hoc analyses showed significantly stronger treatment effects of MCGP-CS compared with CAU on personal meaning (d = 0.81), goal-orientedness (d = 1.07), positive relations (d = 0.59), purpose in life (d = 0.69); fighting spirit (d = 0.61) (post-intervention) and helpless/hopeless (d = −0.87) (3 months FU); and distress (d = −0.6) and depression (d = −0.38) (6 months FU). Significantly stronger effects of MCGP-CS compared with SGP were found on personal growth (d = 0.57) (3 months FU) and environmental mastery (d = 0.66) (6 months FU).
MCGP-CS is an effective intervention for cancer survivors to improve personal meaning, psychological well-being and mental adjustment to cancer in the short term, and to reduce psychological distress in the long run.
Truncus arteriosus and tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia may be difficult to differentiate prenatally. We present a case that, on newborn echocardiography, angiography, and intraoperative inspection, shared features of both diagnoses.
Subjective reports on the effectiveness of and satisfaction with writing interventions in medical populations have indicated that they can have a profound impact on patients. Further, past research on these programs has demonstrated that they can lead to a number of different positive outcomes depending on the personal characteristics of the participating patients and the type of writing with which they are tasked. For this reason, a flexible and individually tailored writing intervention may be particularly effective for patients, molding its approach to their desires and backgrounds. This paper examines Visible Ink, a writing program for cancer patients at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) that follows this model.
At Visible Ink's First Fall Writing Festival in November 2012, an optional survey was provided to all program participants in attendance, capturing both quantitative and qualitative information on patient experiences in the program. Twenty-nine surveys were completed.
The program appears to have a variety of positive effects, including fostering personal growth and providing a positive distraction. Respondents reported that they write in a number of different genres on topics both related and not related to their illnesses, which supports the flexible model of the program. All respondents indicated that they would recommend the program to others, and satisfaction with the program's general approach (i.e., individualized work with a writing coach) was unanimous. A few areas for potential improvement were also identified, most of which involved expanding the services and events offered by the program.
Significance of results:
Despite the limitations of this survey (e.g., small sample size and low response rate), its results support the promise of the Visible Ink model and demonstrate participants' satisfaction with the program. Future research can more thoroughly examine Visible Ink's effectiveness, and additional resources could enable the program to expand.
A superior cavopulmonary connection is commonly performed before the Fontan procedure in patients with a functionally univentricular heart. Data are limited regarding associations between a prior superior cavopulmonary connection and functional and ventricular performance late after the Fontan procedure.
We compared characteristics of those with and without prior superior cavopulmonary connection among 546 subjects enrolled in the Pediatric Heart Network Fontan Cross-Sectional Study. We further compared different superior cavopulmonary connection techniques: bidirectional cavopulmonary anastomosis (n equals 229), bilateral bidirectional cavopulmonary anastomosis (n equals 39), and hemi-Fontan (n equals 114).
A prior superior cavopulmonary connection was performed in 408 subjects (75%); the proportion differed by year of Fontan surgery and centre (p-value less than 0.0001 for each). The average age at Fontan was similar, 3.5 years in those with superior cavopulmonary connection versus 3.2 years in those without (p-value equals 0.4). The type of superior cavopulmonary connection varied by site (p-value less than 0.001) and was related to the type of Fontan procedure. Exercise performance, echocardiographic variables, and predominant rhythm did not differ by superior cavopulmonary connection status or among superior cavopulmonary connection types. Using a test of interaction, findings did not vary according to an underlying diagnosis of hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
After controlling for subject and era factors, most long-term outcomes in subjects with a prior superior cavopulmonary connection did not differ substantially from those without this procedure. The type of superior cavopulmonary connection varied significantly by centre, but late outcomes were similar.
Children born with heterotaxy syndromes have poorer outcomes compared with children born with comparable cardiac lesions requiring similar surgical palliation. Heterotaxy has been reported as a separate risk factor for mortality and increased morbidity in a series of Fontan operations reported from single centres. Little is known, however, about the functional state of surviving patients with heterotaxy following a Fontan operation.
In the multicentric cross-sectional study carried out by the Pediatric Heart Network of 546 survivors of the Fontan procedure, the patients, aged from 6 to 18 years, underwent evaluation by echocardiography, exercise testing, electrocardiography, magnetic resonance imaging, and functional health status questionnaires compiled by the patients and their parents. Heterotaxy was identified in 42 patients (8%). Medical and patient characteristics were compared between those with heterotaxy and the remaining 504 patients who did not have heterotaxy.
Patients with heterotaxy had their Fontan procedure performed at a later age, with a median of 3.9 years versus 2.8 years (p = 0.001) and had volume-unloading surgery performed later, at a median age of 1.4 versus 0.9 years (p = 0.008). These patients had significantly different ventricular and atrioventricular valvar morphology, as well as a higher incidence of systemic and pulmonary venous abnormalities. They had a higher incidence of prior surgery to the pulmonary veins, at 21 versus 0.4%. The type of Fontan procedure was different, but no difference was detected in length of stay in hospital, or the number of postoperative complications. Sinus rhythm was less common, at 44 versus 71%, (p = 0.002), and history of atrial arrhythmias more common, at 19 versus 8%, (p = 0.018) in those with heterotaxy. Echocardiography revealed a greater degree atrioventricular valvar regurgitation, lower indexed stroke volume, and greater Tei index. Exercise performance, levels of brain natriuretic peptide in the serum, and summary and domain scores from health status questionnaires, were not different from those not having heterotaxy.
The study illustrates a profile of characteristics, medical history, functional health state, and markers of ventricular performance in patients with heterotaxy after the Fontan procedure. Despite obvious anatomic differences, and some differences in echocardiography and heart rhythm, there were no important differences in exercise performance or functional health state between these patients and other survivors of the Fontan procedure.
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