Mental Health
Mind-body programme helps women cope better with cancer
May 16, 2009 - 12:15:22 PM

Pathfinders, a mind-body-spirit programme, helps women cope with terminal cancer and improves their quality of life, according to a new study.

'The program helped improve distress and despair during the initial three months and up to six months after diagnosis among women with metastatic breast cancer and a six-month life expectancy,' said Amy Abernethy.

Abernethy, oncologist at Duke University Medical Centre - and lead investigator of the study, obseved that 'though the women were getting sicker and experiencing more symptoms..., they reported... less distress and despair.'

Pathfinders focuses on the seven pillars of personal recovery: hope, balance, inner strengths, self care, support, spirit and life review.

The program provides patient navigation, counselling, coping skills training, mind and body techniques and lifestyle advice.

'The goal... is to teach patients coping skills for dealing with their cancer,' said Tina Staley, director of Pathfinders. 'To reach this goal, we have created a common language between patients, nurses, physicians and Pathfinders for communicating coping skills.'

Researchers enrolled 50 adult breast cancer patients with a prognosis of less than six months survival.

The women met with a Pathfinder, one social worker at least monthly, plus phone conversations and e-mail exchanges, said a DUMC release.

They helped the women identify inner strength, taught them coping skills and encouraged them to engage in complementary and alternative medical services.

The researchers will be presenting their findings at the American Society of

Clinical Oncology in Orlando, on May 31.

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