Education Reduces Distress During Breast Cancer Treatment

Physical, emotional, and social adjustment occurs over time with or without interventions

MONDAY, Jan. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Interventions such as telephone counseling can help women with early-stage breast cancer adjust to emotional distress stemming from the side effects of treatment, according to a study published in the February issue of Applied Nursing Research.

Deborah Witt Sherman, Ph.D., A.P.R.N., of the University of Maryland School of Nursing in Baltimore, and associates evaluated counseling interventions related to physical, emotional, and social adjustment of women with early-stage breast cancer during diagnostic, post-surgery, adjuvant therapy, and ongoing recovery phases. They analyzed data from a randomized controlled clinical trial of 249 women at three medical centers and a community hospital, comparing usual care alone, usual care with psychoeducational videos, usual care with telephone counseling, or usual care with psychoeducational videos and telephone counseling.

The researchers found that patients in all groups went through a dynamic process of adjustment to breast cancer, and showed improvements over time in general health, psychological well-being, and social adjustment (domestic, vocational, and environmental). There were no differences between the groups in physical or social adjustment. The usual-care-only group was found to have poorer emotional adjustment to side effect distress and severity compared with the usual care and nurse-driven intervention groups. The group receiving usual care and telephone counseling experienced a decrease in psychological well-being from the adjuvant phase through the ongoing recovery phase.

"Psychoeducation by videotapes and telephone counseling decreased side effect distress and side effect severity and increased psychological well-being during the adjuvant therapy phase," the authors write. "All patients in the control and intervention groups improved in adjustment. Adjustment issues are still present in the ongoing recovery phase."

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