Fear that cancer may come back or progress is one of the most prevalent, persistent and disruptive problems that people who survive the disease face. It is especially common in breast cancer survivors, with up to 70 percent reporting that the fear affects their daily life. That fear can cause anxiety, depression and overall diminished quality of life.
In the pilot randomized controlled trial described in Cancer, 91 breast cancer survivors were assigned to one of three different groups. One group received ACT for six weeks. The second group was provided survivorship education for six weeks. And the third received enhanced usual care, which included standard care from their healthcare providers, a survivorship booklet and lists of supplemental resources along with one 30-minute group coaching session.
Researchers - Participants - Fear - Recurrence - Beginning
Researchers assessed the participants' fear of recurrence at the beginning of the study, immediately after the intervention, one month after, and then six months after. Each group showed reductions in the severity of their fear, but only ACT provided significant improvements at each evaluation, and the effect continued to grow as time went on.
"There is no way to erase the understandable concern that one's cancer may recur, yet ACT allows cancer survivors to focus more on living their lives as meaningfully as possible and less on the fear they feel. We want them to be the driver of their own lives, not be driven by the fear," said Shelley Johns, PsyD, Regenstrief Institute scientist and first author on...
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