Researchers at the Moffitt Cancer Center find that self-administered stress management training for chemo patients, via audio, video and print materials, was as effective as a live human doing the training.

Researchers at the Moffitt Cancer Center & University of South Florida in Tampa studied responses of 411 randomly assigned cancer patients about to begin chemotherapy, comparing the effects of (1) standard psychosocial care only, (2) a professionally administered form of stress management training (which included deep breathing, progressive relaxation + imagery and affirmations), or a patient self-administered form of the same stress management training, using video, audio and printed guidance.

Quality-of-life assessments were conducted before randomization and before the second, third, and fourth treatment cycles. In addition, costs of each intervention were assessed.

Compared with patients who received usual care only, patients receiving the self-administered intervention reported significantly (P < or = .05) better physical functioning, greater vitality, fewer role limitations because of emotional problems, and better mental health. In contrast, patients who received the professionally administered intervention fared no better in terms of quality of life than patients receiving usual care only. Costs of the self-administered intervention were estimated to be 66% (from a payer perspective) to 68% (from a societal perspective) less than the average costs of professionally administered psychosocial interventions for patients starting chemotherapy.

The study concludes that self-administered stress management training has the potential to greatly improve patient access to psychosocial intervention during chemotherapy treatment.

Citation: Jacobsen PB, Meade CD, Stein KD, Chirikos TN, Small BJ, Ruckdeschel JC. Efficacy and costs of two forms of stress management training for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. J Clin Oncol. 2002, Jun 15; 20 (12): pages 2851-62. [email protected]