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Stress Management Therapy for Chemotherapy Patients


Undergoing treatment for cancer may be one of life's most stressful experiences. Patients scheduled for chemotherapy may wonder about how they will deal with its well-known side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, hair loss, and fatigue. These and other uncertainties can lead to overwhelming stress, which can reduce a patient's quality of life and, possibly, interfere with their recovery.


In this study, patients with newly diagnosed cancer and scheduled to undergo chemotherapy will be randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group will receive standard psychosocial care along with stress management training, while the other will receive standard psychosocial care alone. The self-administered training will consist of multimedia information and instructions about three stress management techniques: progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery, abdominal breathing, and coping skills. 


Hispanic/Latino patients reportedly experience a disproportionately higher level of suffering from cancer and treatment-related stress. This is due, in part, to a lack of culturally relevant resources in Spanish. This study uses culturally sensitive self-education tools in both English and Spanish that are linguistically appropriate and incorporate Hispanic/Latino cultural beliefs. 

"The adverse effects of chemotherapy on quality of life are well documented," said Dr. Taylor. "Stress management techniques have been shown to have beneficial effects on nausea, vomiting, and emotional distress before the administration of chemotherapy as well as in the days following chemotherapy. 


"The primary objective of this study is to determine whether a self-administered stress management intervention, previously found to be beneficial to primarily non-Hispanic chemotherapy patients in a single clinical setting, is effective in improving quality of life and decreasing psychological distress (anxiety and depression) in Hispanic and non-Hispanic patients receiving cancer chemotherapy in multiple community clinical settings. We have met our accrual target for non-Hispanics, so the trial is now open only to Hispanic patients," Dr. Taylor added. 


By: Dr. Teletia Taylor, Howard University, and Dr. Susan McMillan, University of South Florida. 


SOURCE: The website of the National Cancer Institute (http://www.cancer.gov)