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The objectives of this study were to obtain patient evaluations of the content, structure, and delivery modality of Meaning-Centered Pain Coping Skills Training (MCPC), a novel psychosocial intervention for patients with advanced cancer and pain. MCPC aims to help patients connect with valued sources of meaning in their lives (e.g., family relationships), while providing training in evidence-based cognitive and behavioral skills (e.g., guided imagery) to reduce pain.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 patients with stage IV solid tumor cancers and persistent pain. Transcripts were analyzed using methods from applied thematic analysis.
When evaluating MCPC's educational information and skills training descriptions, participants described ways in which this content resonated with their experience. Many coped with their pain and poor prognosis by relying on frameworks that provided them with a sense of meaning, often involving their personally held religious or spiritual beliefs. They also expressed a need for learning ways to cope with pain in addition to taking medication. A few participants offered helpful suggestions for refining MCPC's content, such as addressing common co-occurring symptoms of sleep disturbance and fatigue. Concerning MCPC's structure and delivery modality, most participants preferred that sessions include their family caregiver and described remote delivery (i.e., telephone or videoconference) as being more feasible than attending in-person sessions.
Significance of results
Participants were interested in an intervention that concurrently focuses on learning pain coping skills and enhancing a sense of meaning. Using remote delivery modalities may reduce access barriers (e.g., travel) that would otherwise prevent many patients from utilizing psychosocial services.
The aim was to understand the processes of therapeutic changes in Meaning-Centered Group Psychotherapy (MCGP) in a Portuguese sample.
Adult cancer patients with distress motivated to participate in MCGP were identified; descriptive and narrative analyses were performed on the session content.
The sample had 24 participants (mean age: 63.43 years); the majority were females (75%), with a median academic degree (54%). Breast cancer was most frequent (67%) at the localized stage (71%). The narrative analysis defined seven categories according to the MCGP themes. In “Moments with Meaning (MwM),” the most relevant dimensions were related to interpersonal relations, the moment of diagnosis, and personal achievements. This category established relations with almost all other categories, as did the category “historical sources of meaning (SoM).” The category “identity before and after cancer diagnosis” was only related to “attitudinal SoM” and “transitions.” Historical SoM had two dimensions, “past” and “present and future” legacies, in which prominent topics related to family, childhood, achieved goals, and values to pass to others explored. Attitudinal SoM established relations only with the category “creative SoM,” in which “courage” and “responsibility” were the main dimensions, which were also related to “MwM,” “historical,” and “attitudinal SoM.” Experiential SoM, with the main dimension “love,” was related to “MwM” and “historical SoM.” Transitions only established relations with “historical SoM” and “identity before and after cancer.”
Significance of results
The findings that “MwM” and “historical SoM” were the categories which established a solid pattern of relations suggest that these are the main psychotherapy topics that can have more influence for the participants; one explanation is that these categories imply a concrete way of thinking, which is easier to understand. This process of therapeutic changes must be integrated in a cultural context, as it is well known to have an impact upon the “meaning” of life.
Healthcare professionals who work in palliative care units face stressful life events on a daily basis, most notably death. For this reason, these professionals must be equipped with the necessary protective resources to help them cope with professional and personal burnout. Despite the well-recognized importance of the construct “meaning of work,” the role of this construct and its relationship with other variables is not well-understood. Our objective is to develop and evaluate a model that examines the mediating role of the meaning of work in a multidisciplinary group of palliative care professionals. Using this model, we sought to assess the relationships between meaning of work, perceived stress, personal protective factors (optimism, self-esteem, life satisfaction, personal growth, subjective vitality), and sociodemographic variables.
Professionals (n = 189) from a wide range of disciplines (physicians, psychologists, nurses, social workers, nursing assistants, physical therapists, and chaplains) working in palliative care units at hospitals in Madrid and the Balearic Islands were recruited. Sociodemographic variables were collected and recorded. The following questionnaires were administered: Meaning of Work Questionnaire, Perceived Stress Questionnaire, Life Orientation Test-Revised, Satisfaction with Life Scale, Subjective Vitality Scale, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, and the Personal Growth Scale.
The explanatory value of the model was high, explaining 49.5% of the variance of life satisfaction, 43% of subjective vitality, and 36% of personal growth. The main findings of this study were as follow: (1) meaning of work and perceived stress were negatively correlated; (2) optimism and self-esteem mediated the effect of stress on the meaning attached to work among palliative care professionals; (3) the meaning of work mediated the effect of stress on subjective vitality, personal growth, and life satisfaction; and (4) vitality and personal growth directly influenced life satisfaction.
Significance of results
The proposed model showed a high explanatory value for the meaning professionals give to their work and also for perceived stress, personal protective factors, and sociodemographic variables. Our findings could have highly relevant practical implications for designing programs to promote the psychological well-being of healthcare professionals.
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 diagnosis and treatment of depression are complicated by the presence of a serious medical illness, such as cancer. The role of inflammation in the pathophysiology of depression remains unknown; however, the symptom cluster of sickness behavior is more clearly related to inflammation. Symptom clusters may provide the specificity needed to improve treatment outcomes. The purpose of this study is to use confirmatory factor analysis to examine the construct of sickness behavior in patients with advanced cancer using the Beck Depression Inventory–II (BDI–II).
Patients (N = 167) were recruited from chemotherapy clinics and the Department of Psychiatry at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Symptoms were a priori delineated using the factor labels sickness behavior and negative affectivity (two-factor model), and affective, cognitive, and sickness behavior (three-factor model). These data were also fit for a more traditional model using affective, cognitive, and somatic factors.
The mean total BDI–II score was 14.74 (SD = 8.52; range = 1–46). Fit statistics for all models were good, but the novel three-factor model with sickness behavior provided the best fit: χ2(186) = 273.624; p < 0.001; root-mean-square error of approximation = 0.053; comparative fit index = 0.949.
Significance of results:
Both the two- and three-factor models provide support for the unique construct of sickness behavior in patients with advanced cancer. High factor correlations with the BDI–II and other measures of distress were observed, which raises questions about theoretically distinct, but related, constructs.