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Treatments for cancer-related anxiety show modest benefits, but most have been trialled in patients with early stage disease or patients who are currently disease free. However, many patients with cancer have incurable disease, or their disease is slowly progressing or likely to recur. Treating anxiety in the context of realistic threat and ongoing uncertainty is particularly challenging. Based on a theoretical model of cancer-related anxiety, we developed a transdiagnostic intervention for patients with advanced or recurred disease who are experiencing clinically significant anxieties. The intervention was a novel integration of traditional and contemporary CBT.
To evaluate the feasibility, acceptability and preliminary efficacy of the intervention in a pilot with patients with advanced or recurred cancer.
Twelve patients with advanced or recurred cancer, who were experiencing anxiety, participated. Feasibility and acceptability were assessed with participant’s ratings and adherence and retention rates. Psychological outcomes (anxiety, traumatic symptoms, fear of progression, depression, death anxiety and quality of life) were assessed pre-intervention, post-intervention and at 2-month follow-up.
Eleven of the 12 participants completed at least five therapy sessions of whom eight completed all nine sessions. Participants rated the intervention as having excellent face validity. Post-intervention, statistically significant improvements were demonstrated for anxiety, traumatic symptoms, fear of progression, depression and quality of life. These improvements were maintained at follow-up for anxiety, traumatic symptoms and depression.
This pilot provides preliminary evidence for the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of the novel intervention for cancer-related anxiety in the context of advanced disease.
Psychosocial oncologists may be particularly vulnerable to burnout. This study aimed to assess burnout among Israeli psychosocial oncologists in relation to the Job Demands-Resources model and the coping strategies model.
Participants included 85 of 128 listed psychosocial oncologists currently working with cancer patients. They completed a questionnaire assessing emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, job demands, job resources, work engagement, overcommitment, and perceived value of work.
The mean level of burnout was low, whereas 16.3% experienced high levels of emotional exhaustion and only 2.4% experienced high levels of depersonalization. According to mediation analysis, overcommitment, partially mediated job demands-burnout associations, and work engagement mediated the perceived value-burnout association. Job resources and burnout were not related, either directly or indirectly.
Significance of results
The study extended the Job Demands-Resources model to include perceived value as an additional resource, and work-engagement and overcommitment as coping strategies. Two distinct patterns of associations were found between work characteristics and burnout: the positive-protective pattern (perceived value and work engagement) and the negative pattern (job demands and overcommitment). These two patterns should be considered for further research and for implementing preventive interventions to reduce burnout in the workplace setting.
Burnout is reportedly high among oncology healthcare workers. Psychosocial oncologists may be particularly vulnerable to burnout. However, their work engagement may also be high, counteracting stress in the workplace. This study aimed to document the prevalence of both burnout and work engagement, and the predictors of both, utilizing the job demands–resources (JD–R) model, within a sample of psychosocial oncologists.
Psychosocial-oncologist (N = 417) clinicians, recruited through 10 international and national psychosocial-oncology societies, completed an online questionnaire. Measures included demographic and work characteristics, burnout (the MBI–HSS Emotional Exhaustion (EE) and Depersonalization (DP) subscales), the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale, and measures of job demands and resources.
High EE and DP was reported by 20.2 and 6.6% of participants, respectively, while 95.3% reported average to high work engagement. Lower levels of job resources and higher levels of job demands predicted greater burnout, as predicted by the JD–R model, but the predicted interaction between these characteristics and burnout was not significant. Higher levels of job resources predicted higher levels of work engagement.
Significance of results:
Burnout was surprisingly low and work engagement high in this sample. Nonetheless, one in five psychosocial oncologists have high EE. Our results suggest that both the positive (resources) and negative (demands) aspects of this work environment have an on impact burnout and engagement, offering opportunities for intervention. Theories such as the JD–R model can be useful in guiding research in this area.
Spiritual history taking by physicians is recommended as part of palliative care. Nevertheless, very few studies have explored the way that experienced physicians undertake this task.
Using grounded theory, semistructured interviews were conducted with 23 physicians who had experience in caring for advanced cancer patients. They were asked to describe the way they discuss spirituality with their patients.
We have described a delicate, skilled, tailored process whereby physicians create a space in which patients feel safe enough to discuss intimate topics. Six themes were identified: (1) developing the self: physicians describe the need to understand and be secure in one's own spirituality and be comfortable with one's own mortality before being able to discuss spirituality; (2) developing one's attitude: awareness of the importance of spirituality in the life of a patient, and the need to respect each patient's beliefs is a prerequisite; (3) experienced physicians wait for the patient to give them an indication that they are ready to discuss spiritual issues and follow their lead; (4) what makes it easier: spiritual discussion is easier when doctor and patient share spiritual and cultural backgrounds, and the patient needs to be physically comfortable and willing to talk; (5) what makes it harder: experienced physicians know that they will find it difficult to discuss spirituality when they are rushed and when they identify too closely with a patient's struggles; and (6) an important and effective intervention: exploration of patient spirituality improves care and enhances coping.
Significance of results:
A delicate, skilled, tailored process has been described whereby doctors endeavor to create a space in which patients feel sufficiently safe to discuss intimate topics.
Motor neuron disease (MND) is an incurable progressive illness, characterized by incessant deterioration of neuromuscular function. Timely commencement of advance care planning (ACP) may enable patients to participate in future care choices. The present systematic review aimed to summarize what is known about the prevalence, content, patient/caregiver benefits, healthcare professional (HCP) awareness/support, and healthcare outcomes associated with ACP in the MND setting.
Quantitative and qualitative studies were identified through database searches and eligibility assessed by one author and verified by her coauthor. Data extraction and quality assessments against standardized criteria were completed by the two authors.
Of the 422 studies identified, 16 were included. The research methods generally lacked rigor. Advance directive (AD) prevalence varied considerably across studies. Disease progression was the strongest predictor of AD completion. ACP processes may clarify patients' wishes and promote communication. HCP attitudes or lack of awareness may limit ACP processes. Varying patient preferences may make flexible approaches and timing necessary.
Significance of results:
Important benefits may be associated with ACP in the context of a motor neuron disease (e.g., feelings of control/relief and refusal of unwanted treatments). However, further evidence is required to verify findings and identify optimal streamlined approaches (e.g., use of decision aids) consistent with patients' (and caregivers') needs over time.
An important goal of cancer medicine is relief of patients' suffering. In view of the clinical challenges of identifying suffering patients, we sought to identify valid instruments for assessing the spiritual suffering of people diagnosed with cancer.
A systematic review of the literature was conducted in the Medline, Embase, the Cochrane Library, and PsycINFO databases seeking assessment instruments that measure either suffering or one of its synonyms or symptoms. The psychometric properties of the identified measures were compared.
A total of 90 articles were identified that supplied information about 58 measures. The constructs examined were: suffering, hopelessness/demoralization, hope, meaning, spiritual well-being, quality of life where a spiritual/existential dimension was included, distress in the palliative care setting and pain, distress or struggle of a spiritual nature. The Pictorial Representation of Illness and Self Measure (PRISM) (patient completed) was the most promising measure identified for measuring the burden of suffering caused by illness due to its ease of use and the inclusion of a subjective component.
Significance of Results:
Although the appropriateness of any measure for the assessment of spiritual suffering in cancer patients will depend on the context in which it is intended to be utilized, the PRISM is promising for measuring the burden of suffering due to illness.
Consistent use of imatinib is critical for treatment success in chronic myeloid leukemia, yet perfect adherence to the prescribed clinical regimen is reported to be as low as 14%. This study aimed to understand patients' experiences of chronic myeloid leukemia with a qualitative approach, including identified facilitators and barriers to adherence, drawing on patients' and health professionals' perspectives, recording comments made by patients and health professionals involved with the same treatment team.
We recruited patients with chronic myeloid leukemia prescribed imatinib therapy and health professionals involved in their treatment from a specialized cancer center. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were recorded, transcribed, and manually analyzed using interpretive phenomenological analysis. Recruitment ceased upon saturation, with 16 patients and 10 health professionals (hematologists n = 4, nurses n = 3, pharmacists n = 3).
Twelve patients reported at least one instance of nonadherence. Reasons for unintentional nonadherence included forgetfulness related to variations of routine and doctor–patient communication issues. Reasons for intentional nonadherence included desires to reduce dose-dependent side effects and insufficient support. Patients who reported higher nonadherence rates felt complacent following periods of sustained disease control or had received conflicting advice regarding nonadherence. Health professionals had difficulty in accurately evaluating medication adherence due to a lack of reliable measures, utilizing patient self-report and manifestations of suboptimal disease control to guide assessments.
Significance of Results:
Adherence issues persist throughout the course of treatment. While high patient-reported nonadherence rates were recorded, health professionals were often unaware of the complex causes, compounded by an inadequacy of adherence assessment tools. Some patients reported nonadherence events because of insufficient education or lack of access to prompt medical guidance. These issues should be addressed to improve clinical practice.
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