1. Rosenberg, Karen


According to this study:


* Overall, psychological support interventions for medical patients receiving curative or rehabilitative care increased both the odds and relative length of survival to a degree comparable to other tertiary prevention methods.



Article Content

Studies of psychosocial support interventions in medical settings have produced mixed results, with some suggesting these interventions can lead to improvement in both quality of life and patient survival. Researchers reviewed the literature to evaluate the overall degree to which psychosocial support interventions improve survival among medical patients receiving curative or rehabilitative care and to compare interventions emphasizing behavioral support with those focused on social or emotional support.


The meta-analysis included 106 randomized controlled trials with a total of 40,280 patients. Regarding the focus of the intervention, 34 of these studies provided psychosocial behavioral support specifically focused on health behaviors and 72 emphasized social or emotional support.


Across 87 studies reporting data at fixed time periods, the likelihood of survival was 20% higher among patients receiving psychological support compared with those receiving standard medical care. Among these studies, psychosocial behavioral interventions that promoted treatment adherence improved the likelihood of survival, whereas interventions focused on social or emotional support did not.


Across 22 trials reporting data in terms of survival time, there was a 29% increased likelihood of longer survival among intervention patients compared with controls. Studies with a higher risk of research bias tended to report better outcomes. Those in which patients had more severe disease tended to report fewer benefits of psychosocial intervention compared with studies in which patients had less disease severity.


The researchers note that the results of the studies and support methods used varied widely. Also, few of the interventions included support from naturally occurring relationships, such as family or a partner, and preexisting levels of psychological support weren't evaluated.


Smith TB, et al PLoS Med 2021;18(5):e1003595.