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Association of psychological self-regulation with longer survival in patients with metastatic cancer

14 Aug
The team of Cunningham, Phillips, Lockwood, Hedley and Edmonds, from the Ontario Cancer Institute, Princess Margaret Hospital, report in a recent issue of Advances in Mind-Body Medicine, that when patients dedicatedly employ a variety of psychological self-regulating strategies, (relaxation, guided imagery, cognitive restructuring and meditation), there is a life-prolonging effect.

In this prospective, longitudinal, correlative study, 22 patients with varying kinds of medically incurable, metastatic cancer were followed for one year, as they engaged in weekly group psychological therapy.

Patients'' written homework and therapists'' notes were collected and qualitatively analyzed, to determine the extent of the patient''s involvement with their psychological work and the behavioral techniques (high, medium or low), and then checked for survival duration.

A significant relationship was found between degree of involveent in psychological work and survival (p=.006). (The most likely confounding variables - medical status, age, quality of life and attendance at therapy were similar across subgroups.)

As this was a small study, further research is warranted. But it does indicate that dedicated involvement in self-regulation and psychological work will prolong the life of some patients with metastatic cancer.

Citation: Association of involvement in psychological self-regulation with longer survival in patients with metastatic cancer: an exploratory study. Cunningham AJ, Phillips C, Lockwood GA, Hedley DW, Edmonds CV. Advances in Mind Body Medicine. 2000 Fall;16(4):287-94.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award