Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Family therapy reduces stress symptoms in adolescent survivors of childhood cancer

27.10.2004


Family therapy and other psychological treatments may help reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress among teenaged survivors of childhood cancer--as well as among their parents.



In studying a group of 150 families, researchers at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that participants had significantly fewer symptoms of post-traumatic stress after a one-day treatment program, compared to a control group who did not receive the treatment. Each family included an adolescent who had completed cancer treatment an average of five years previously.

The study, in the September 2004 issue of the Journal of Family Psychology, is the first reported large randomized clinical trial of treatment related to family adjustment to a serious pediatric illness. Half of the group, randomly chosen, received the treatment, which combined cognitive-behavioral therapy with family therapy. The other half of the group received the treatment after the study was completed.


"Because cancer is a life-threatening experience, it represents a traumatic stress that may leave aftereffects such as those found in survivors of war and natural disasters," says Anne E. Kazak, Ph.D., director of Psychology at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and senior author of the study. Posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) include intrusive, unwanted thoughts; avoidance of stress-inducing settings and situations; and heightened arousal, such as nausea or increased heart rate triggered by reminders of the original experience.

Researchers found the strongest effects of the treatment in the adolescent survivors, who had decreased arousal symptoms, and among the survivors’ fathers, who had fewer intrusive thoughts. "Fathers are often underrepresented in pediatric research samples, because so many studies occur in outpatient settings where mothers accompany their children," remarked Dr. Kazak. Dr. Kazak’s previous studies found that fathers of childhood cancer survivors have PTSS at levels nearly as high as mothers. "Many of the fathers in this study said they had feared that expressing their upsetting memories would be detrimental to other family members," Dr. Kazak added. "They found that sharing those reactions with their family was a powerful experience, and helped to reduce their sense of being isolated with those feelings."

Surprisingly, mothers of survivors did not show a significant effect from the treatment. One complicating factor, said Dr. Kazak, is that families with higher PTSS levels were more likely to drop out of the study. A statistical analysis of their findings suggested that the treatment would have had stronger effects if the families with higher distress levels had completed the study. "Delving into distressing memories is difficult," Dr. Kazak added. "Many families had reservations about opening this can of worms. However, families who did participate in the treatment benefited from it." She added that future treatments might occur away from a hospital setting, because people with PTSS may avoid locations such as hospitals that are associated with the cancer experience.

For the treatment, the researchers used the Surviving Cancer Competently Intervention Program (SCCIP), established by Dr. Kazak and her team at Children’s Hospital. The four-session, one-day program uses a family group treatment model. Employing cognitive-behavioral principles, therapists encouraged group participants to identify bothersome memories about the child’s cancer and to express personal beliefs about the adverse experiences.

Therapists then taught the participants coping skills by encouraging them to reframe their thoughts to focus on controllable and positive consequences. "We might urge a survivor to say, for example, ’Cancer is still unfair, but what can I do about it now?"’ said Dr. Kazak,

In family discussion groups, the researchers offered take-home messages to assist family members in supporting each other through stressful episodes stemming from their shared experiences. "We help family members figure out how to talk about cancer as a family, and how to recognize when a family member is upset from the stress," said Dr. Kazak. "For instance, parents may not always be aware how siblings of the cancer survivor may be affected."

The study’s findings, that brief psychological interventions are effective in relieving traumatic stress symptoms in family members, may have a broader relevance beyond childhood cancer. "This approach may be applicable to other situations in treating the aftereffects of trauma associated with medical diagnosis and treatment," said Dr. Kazak. "For instance, we have studied stress symptoms following automobile injuries. Accidental injuries, burns, and chronic conditions such as asthma or sickle cell disease may also involve painful or frightening treatments that engender traumatic stress."

Co-authors with Dr. Kazak were Melissa A. Alderfer, Ph.D.; Randy Streisand, Ph.D.; Steven Simms, Ph.D.; Mary T. Rourke, Ph.D.; Paul Gallagher, M.A.; and Avital Cnaan, Ph.D.; of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; and Lamia P. Barakat, Ph.D., of Drexel University. Drs. Kazak, Alderfer and Cnaan also are faculty members of the University of Pennsylvania. Funding support for the study came from the National Cancer Institute and the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

John Ascenzi | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.chop.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht GLUT5 fluorescent probe fingerprints cancer cells
20.04.2018 | Michigan Technological University

nachricht Scientists re-create brain neurons to study obesity and personalize treatment
20.04.2018 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Start of work for the world's largest electric truck

20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

Atoms may hum a tune from grand cosmic symphony

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>