Objective: Dignity Psychotherapy has shown great promise as a
value-affirming intervention for patients with advanced disease. We
delivered the Dignity Psychotherapy intervention in a feasibility study of
a series of eight cancer patients via videophone technology to deliver the
therapy into their homes.
Methods: Once eligible patients were consented on this
IRB-approved study, they completed baseline assessments and were scheduled
to have the videophone placed in their homes. The Dignity Therapy sessions
then encompassed a first session, which was transcribed and edited,
followed by a second session to go over the edited transcript and allow
the patient to make changes. Patients then filled out follow-up
questionnaires and had the telemedicine equipment removed from their
homes, and their legacy document delivered.
Results: Participants had a mean age of 56.32 years (range =
41–66, SD = 7.65) and were diagnosed with lung (n
= 5, 62.5%), breast (n = 2, 25%), or colon cancer (n =
1, 12.5%). They reported overall benefit from the intervention along with
a high level of satisfaction. We were able to deliver the intervention in
a timely fashion, with minimal length between sessions and transcript
delivery and few technical difficulties.
Significance of results: Telemedicine can greatly extend the
benefits of Dignity Psychotherapy by bringing it to patients who are dying
at home. Our very preliminary work suggests that delivering the
intervention to patients who are too ill to leave their homes or who are
in rural locations may be a feasible way to help them.