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Keywords:

  • surgery;
  • breast cancer;
  • psychological intervention;
  • stress management training;
  • oncology

Abstract

Objective

This study evaluated the psychological effects of a pre-surgical stress management training (SMT) in cancer patients.

Methods

Stress management training comprised four sessions in total: on 5 days and 1 day pre-surgery and on 2 days and 1 month post-surgery. Patients also received audio CDs with relaxation and coping skills exercises. Patients were randomly assigned to the SMT (N = 34) or a regular care condition (N = 36). Depression, anxiety, quality of life, perception of control, fatigue, pain, sleep problems, and surgery-related somatic symptoms were measured at Day 6 and Day 1 pre-surgery, and Day 2, 5, 30 and 90 post-surgery.

Results

Depression and fatigue decreased in the intervention group and increased in the control group, leading to significant group differences at Day 2 (fatigue) and Day 5 post-surgery (fatigue and depression). It also appeared that surgery-related symptoms had increased more in the control group 3 months post-surgery than in the SMT group. No intervention effects were observed for anxiety, pain, and sleep problems.

Conclusion

The use of a short psychological intervention is effective in reducing depression and fatigue in the post-surgical period, although the effects are of short duration.

Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.