Cognitive behavioural strategies yield modest reductions in symptoms in advanced cancer
Cognitive behavioural strategies (CBS) may provide only small therapeutic relief for advanced cancer patients receiving treatment and experiencing co-occurring pain, sleep disturbance and fatigue, a recent study has found.
Researchers enrolled 164 advanced cancer patients who were undergoing chemotherapy. Participants randomly received a CBS intervention (n=85; mean age 58.44±9.89 years; 72 percent female), involving nature imagery and relaxation exercises, or cancer education (n=79; mean age 58.61±9.03 years; 75 percent female), which included recordings of educational materials.
Groups demonstrated statistically comparable symptom cluster severity scores at follow-up weeks 3, 6 and 9. The same was true for symptom cluster scores for interference with daily life. In terms of symptom cluster distress, the CBS group showed significantly lower mean scores at week 6 (1.82 vs 2.15; p=0.04), but scores were similar at weeks 3 and 9.
In comparison, user perception was better for the CBS intervention, which more participants enjoyed than the cancer education control (67 percent vs 36 percent). Similarly, more participants in the CBS group reported perceived improvement in symptoms (65 percent vs 18 percent) and felt greater control over their symptoms (46 percent vs 24 percent).
“The CBS intervention may provide some small therapeutic benefit for patients experiencing co-occurring pain, fatigue and sleep disturbance. Clinicians can encourage self-management of this symptom cluster by identifying strategies that reduce stress, enhance positive expectations and foster perceptions of personal control over symptoms,” said researchers.
Future studies should focus on the development of effective interventions and strategies that may help relieve the burden of co-occurring symptoms, they added.