Healthy Even through Cancer—What Are the Assumptions and Outcomes for Psychological Intervention

A special issue of Behavioral Sciences (ISSN 2076-328X). This special issue belongs to the section "Health Psychology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2022) | Viewed by 23526

Special Issue Editor

Esophageal and Digestive Tract Surgical Unit, Regional Centre for Esophageal Disease, Veneto Institute of Oncology (IOV-IRCCS), Padova, Italy
Interests: health; quality of life; oncological surgery; digestive tract neoplasms; research methodology; epistemology; narration
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Cancer remains a highly fatal disease, a major cause of mortality, and a huge burden throughout the world, requiring increased primary prevention efforts, screenings, and treatments. When considering neoplasm disease, the side effects of treatments and iatrogenesis should also be taken into account in order to estimate the health of patients on a global scale.

In this sense, in current literature, quality of life has become one of the outcomes evaluated in oncological patients, and it is a self-reported outcome. This is a benchmark of the increasing need to “be healthy”, through experiencing the disease—before the achievement of oncological treatment goals or despite their failure. Therefore, health professionals should construct a treatment pathway for patients’ health, through the neoplasm. Research helps clinicians, in particular, by considering psychological perspectives, thus corroborating knowledge on cancer patient health.

We are pleased to invite you to contribute to this field.

This Special Issue aims to provide a picture of the state-of-art of psychological support in oncology. What are the objectives of psychological support? And what are the outcomes? What are psychological interventions specific for cancer patients based on? How are these psychological interventions carried out? Furthermore, what are the theoretical assumptions valid for psychological intervention in oncology? Moreover, where does the psychological intervention take place? Are caregivers considered? Are health professionals considered? When should these roles be considered and how? Last, but not least, how is psychological support evaluated in oncology?

These are some (of the many) questions, whose answers can suggest a direction towards the effective integration of psychological intervention in cancer patient care.

Thus, the collection of convergent contributions on the Special Issue, titled “Healthy Even through Cancer—What are the Assumptions and Outcomes for Psychological Intervention?”, may give rise to the identification of the first outlines for the identification of shared guidelines in the management of cancer patients.

In this Special Issue, original research articles and reviews are welcome, as well as theoretical contributions that broaden the knowledge on this topic.

I look forward to receiving your contributions. 

Dr. Eleonora Pinto
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • effectiveness
  • health
  • neoplasm
  • outcomes
  • psychological intervention
  • psychological techniques
  • quality of life

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Published Papers (11 papers)

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Editorial

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7 pages, 221 KiB  
Editorial
Healthy Even through Cancer: What Are the Assumptions and Outcomes for Psychological Intervention?
Behav. Sci. 2023, 13(6), 506; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs13060506 - 16 Jun 2023
Viewed by 794
Abstract
Cancer remains a highly fatal disease, a major cause of mortality and a huge health burden around the world, requiring increased primary prevention efforts, screenings and treatments [...] Full article

Research

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13 pages, 7774 KiB  
Article
The Co-Construction of an Elegant Ending—Polyphonic Musical Intervention in Palliative Care: A Case Study
Behav. Sci. 2022, 12(10), 392; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs12100392 - 14 Oct 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2160
Abstract
The complexity of creative processes, within which human nature pines and finds itself, reflects a state of relational emergency. The weak structure of our multicultural system gives us a series of behavioral flaws, denouncing our inability to welcome diversity and treasure it. In [...] Read more.
The complexity of creative processes, within which human nature pines and finds itself, reflects a state of relational emergency. The weak structure of our multicultural system gives us a series of behavioral flaws, denouncing our inability to welcome diversity and treasure it. In the search for the way out, using the metaphor of polyphony is increasingly frequent. However, since the term Polyphony is borrowed from musical language, it would be necessary to experience it concretely, and this usually does not happen. Those musicians who aspire to be artists in helping relationships should constantly train themselves in this sense and force themselves to make their ability understood externally, helping those who for reasons of life find themselves experiencing the limit. The field of palliative care is probably the most suitable socio-cultural setting for getting in touch with the personal (mis)interpretations, idiosyncrasies, and pain of those who feel close to the end. To their aid, the aesthetic criterion advances. Making sacred the unifying experience of loss and finiteness turns into an educational process moreover therapeutic, in the co-construction of an elegant “finale” able to reach the heart and intelligence of those who remain. Full article
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13 pages, 1886 KiB  
Article
The Health of Healthcare Professionals in Italian Oncology: An Analysis of Narrations through the M.A.D.I.T. Methodology
Behav. Sci. 2022, 12(5), 134; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs12050134 - 05 May 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1972
Abstract
From the analysis of the scientific literature relating to the health of oncological patients, the need to consider the global dimension of health of individuals emerges, which subsumes the bodily dimension and involves all the actors who offer their contribution to it in [...] Read more.
From the analysis of the scientific literature relating to the health of oncological patients, the need to consider the global dimension of health of individuals emerges, which subsumes the bodily dimension and involves all the actors who offer their contribution to it in different ways. In this direction, the state of the art of the health construct offered by healthcare professionals highlights a lack of scientific contributions to the specific subject although these professionals are fundamental figures in oncological diagnosis setups. Considering, therefore, the healthcare roles as an integral part of the interactive framework where the oncological patient is placed, this paper offers the results of an Italian study relating to the health of healthcare professionals who take charge of patients with a neoplasia diagnosis. In particular, through an analysis of the discursive productions of 61 participants (healthcare workers, oncological patients and citizens) by the M.A.D.I.T. methodology (Methodology for the Analysis of Computerized Textual Data), this study aimed at observing the discursive reality of health offered by healthcare workers. The collected data highlight a low degree of health expressed by the healthcare professionals, who are strongly typified by rhetoric such as “the one who is destined to suffer psychologically”. These narrations limit the possibilities of development of different narrations in depicting these professionals: critical repercussions in the interaction with the oncological patients emerged, as well as in their global health degree. In conclusion, the results show the need for deep investigation into the impact that the health degree of health professionals can have on the patients they take charge of. Full article
11 pages, 951 KiB  
Article
A Textual Analysis for Understanding the Relations and the Identity Construction in Adolescent Oncology Patients: Retrospective Personal Views in Order to Educate Health Professionals
Behav. Sci. 2022, 12(5), 120; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs12050120 - 21 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1712
Abstract
Patient input is critical for all aspects of value-based healthcare design. This contribution describes the following: the specifics of communications with doctors regarding the disease in adolescents and young adults with cancer; the patients’ thoughts, emotions and changes in self-perception; “other meanings” taking [...] Read more.
Patient input is critical for all aspects of value-based healthcare design. This contribution describes the following: the specifics of communications with doctors regarding the disease in adolescents and young adults with cancer; the patients’ thoughts, emotions and changes in self-perception; “other meanings” taking shape along the treatment pathway; and reacting modes to the disease and treatments. Thirty-five Italian AYA patients in follow-up (age 18–24) were involved in a plenary interview on the cited aspects of their oncological experience. The answers were analyzed by MADIT (Analysis Methodology of Computerized Textual Data) with the software SPAD. MADIT allowed us to perform text analysis, describe the graphical outcomes and discuss the results. Respondents took a first-person perspective and their personal narrative recall had objective and unequivocal connotations. Experience was narrated mainly by maintenance repertoires that fix the reality of disease, its treatments and personal identity. The account focused on the tumor and on an agreed approach to it. The time “after” was described as a distressing space that defines them. Making sense of the events was considered a significant help. Professionals need to focus on the discursive repertoires of communication with which the inner and outer reality are built. Lastly, these patients required a two-way dialogue throughout the entire caring process. Full article
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15 pages, 317 KiB  
Article
Critical Competences for the Management of Post-Operative Course in Patients with Digestive Tract Cancer: The Contribution of MADIT Methodology for a Nine-Month Longitudinal Study
Behav. Sci. 2022, 12(4), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs12040101 - 09 Apr 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2166
Abstract
There is a high postoperative morbidity rate after cancer surgery, that impairs patients’ self-management, job condition and economic strength. This paper describes the results of a peculiar psychological intervention on patients undergoing surgery for esophageal, gastric and colorectal cancer. The intervention aimed to [...] Read more.
There is a high postoperative morbidity rate after cancer surgery, that impairs patients’ self-management, job condition and economic strength. This paper describes the results of a peculiar psychological intervention on patients undergoing surgery for esophageal, gastric and colorectal cancer. The intervention aimed to enhance patients’ competences in the management of postoperative daily life. A narrative approach (M.A.D.I.T.—Methodology for the Analysis of Computerised Text Data) was used to create a questionnaire, Health and Employment after Gastro-Intestinal Surgery—Dialogical Questionnaire, HEAGIS-DQ, that assesses four competences. It was administered to 48 participants. Results were used as guidance for specific intervention, structured on patients’ competence profiles. The intervention lasted nine months after surgery and was structured in weekly to monthly therapeutic sessions. Quality of Life questionnaires were administered too. At the end of the intervention, 94% of patients maintained their job and only 10% of patients asked for financial support. The mean self-perception of health-related quality of life was 71.2. The distribution of three of four competences increased after nine months (p < 0.05). Despite economic difficulties due to lasting symptoms after surgery, and to the current pandemic scenario, a structured intervention with patients let them to resume their jobs and continue activities after surgery. Full article
16 pages, 302 KiB  
Article
Anticipatory Mourning and Narrative Meaning-Making in the Younger Breast Cancer Experience: An Application of the Meaning of Loss Codebook
Behav. Sci. 2022, 12(4), 93; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs12040093 - 28 Mar 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2299
Abstract
Breast cancer (BC) in women under 50 is a potentially traumatic experience that can upset a woman’s life during a crucial phase of her lifespan. Anticipatory mourning linked to the diagnosis of BC can produce a series of inevitable losses similar to those [...] Read more.
Breast cancer (BC) in women under 50 is a potentially traumatic experience that can upset a woman’s life during a crucial phase of her lifespan. Anticipatory mourning linked to the diagnosis of BC can produce a series of inevitable losses similar to those of the bereaved. Narration can be one tool to construct meaning, to grow through the experience, and reconfigure time perspectives during and after the illness. The aim of this study was to apply the Meaning of Loss Codebook (MLC) to the narrative context of young women with BC. An ad hoc narrative interview was administered to 17 women at four times during the first year of treatment. A thematic analysis was performed using the MLC, adopting a bottom-up and top-down methodology. The results highlight the MLC’s usefulness in capturing the experiences of the women, allowing for a greater appreciation of the nuances of the meanings embodied in their narratives. The thematic categories grounded in the MLC cover the whole experience of BC during the first year of treatment, attesting to the possibility of extending the use of the MLC to observe the longitudinal elaboration of the psychic experience of BC in addition to its established validity in the context of bereavement and loss. Full article
12 pages, 289 KiB  
Article
Managing the Consequences of Oncological Major Surgery: A Short- and Medium-Term Skills Assessment Proposal for Patient and Caregiver through M.A.D.I.T. Methodology
Behav. Sci. 2022, 12(3), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs12030077 - 15 Mar 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2481
Abstract
The effects of cancer surgery and treatment harm patients’ life and working ability: major causes of this can be intensified by the postoperative symptoms. This study, the first part of the HEAGIS project (Health and Employment after Gastrointestinal Surgery), proposes a method to [...] Read more.
The effects of cancer surgery and treatment harm patients’ life and working ability: major causes of this can be intensified by the postoperative symptoms. This study, the first part of the HEAGIS project (Health and Employment after Gastrointestinal Surgery), proposes a method to assess patients and caregivers’ competences in dealing with postoperative course and the related needs to improve the adequate competences. In this observational study, an ad hoc structured interview was conducted with 47 patients and 15 caregivers between the third and fifteenth postoperative day. Oesophageal (38%), esophagogastric junction (13%), gastric (30%), colon (8%) and rectum (11%) cancer patients were considered. Computerized textual data analysis methodology was used to identify levels of competences. Text analysis highlighted three different levels (low, medium and high) of four specific types of patients and caregivers’ competences. In particular, the overall trend of the preview of future scenarios and use of resource competences was low. Less critical were situation evaluation and preview repercussion of own actions’ competences. Caregivers’ trends were similar. The Kruskal–Wallis test did not distinguish any differences in the level of competences related to the characteristics of the participants. Patients and caregivers are not accurate in planning the future after surgery, using personal beliefs rather than referring to physicians, and not recognizing adequate resources. The medium-low competences’ trend leads to unexpected critical situations, and patients could not deal with them in a maximally effective way. Both patients and caregivers should be taken over by healthcare professionals to improve patients’ competences and make the curative surgery effective in daily life. Full article
11 pages, 277 KiB  
Article
Experiences of Female Breast Cancer Survivors Concerning Their Return to Work in Spain
Behav. Sci. 2021, 11(10), 135; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs11100135 - 02 Oct 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2222
Abstract
The objective of this study was to analyze the experiences of returning to work of women who had overcome breast cancer, identifying its physical and psychological consequences, the process they underwent, their motivations, and difficulties. A total of 19 female breast cancer survivors, [...] Read more.
The objective of this study was to analyze the experiences of returning to work of women who had overcome breast cancer, identifying its physical and psychological consequences, the process they underwent, their motivations, and difficulties. A total of 19 female breast cancer survivors, with an age range of 30 to 57 years, participated in two focus groups. A semi-structured script was prepared about their experiences of returning to work. The results indicated that survivors’ self-perception was weakened by the physical and psychological consequences of the treatment of the disease; economic difficulties were one of the main reasons for going back to work; lastly, returning to work was a difficult process, mainly because of their physical/psychological limitations, the scarcity of job adaptation measures, and the limited support of the various public administrations. In addition, most of the women had to cope with seeking a new job without any guidance or job training. Significant difficulties related to the maintenance and return to work of female breast cancer survivors have been revealed. Findings highlighted the need to provide more and better information and guidance to cancer patients concerning their return to work or the search for a new job. Full article

Review

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14 pages, 307 KiB  
Review
How to Intervene in the Health Management of the Oncological Patient and of Their Caregiver? A Narrative Review in the Psycho-Oncology Field
Behav. Sci. 2021, 11(7), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs11070099 - 09 Jul 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2847
Abstract
Starting from statistical data derived from the oncological field, some articles have highlighted the importance of communication in the patient–caregiver dyad and have considered the various roles involved in a cancer diagnosis situation. Thus, the question of how to intervene in terms of [...] Read more.
Starting from statistical data derived from the oncological field, some articles have highlighted the importance of communication in the patient–caregiver dyad and have considered the various roles involved in a cancer diagnosis situation. Thus, the question of how to intervene in terms of “quality of life” from the time of diagnosis to the recovery or death of a cancer patient, beyond the sanitary and physical dimensions, has become relevant. Therefore, the present narrative review aims to offer an overview of the state of the art in terms of the psychological treatment modalities of cancer patients, from the diagnosis to the post-surgery period. A total of 67 articles were collected and analyzed, in relation to (1) psychological constructs employed in the oncological field, (2) intervention models and (3) quality of life and well-being measurement and evaluation tools. We described these articles, differentiating between those focusing on the role of (1) the patient, (2) the caregiver, (3) the patient–caregiver dyad and (4) healthcare professional roles. The oncological diagnosis and its repercussions in the lives of the patient and caregiver were explored and critical aspects that emerged from the literature were highlighted. In conclusion, the analysis allowed some considerations about the need to define research protocols and useful management strategies for increasing the overall health of patients with cancer diagnoses and the people who surround them. Full article

Other

11 pages, 262 KiB  
Case Report
Mindfulness Meditation as Psychosocial Support in the Breast Cancer Experience: A Case Report
Behav. Sci. 2022, 12(7), 216; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs12070216 - 29 Jun 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2008
Abstract
In the last decade, Mindfulness-based interventions have been increasingly used in health care settings, particularly in the context of cancer. Research documents the efficacy of these interventions for decreasing the burdens of stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue, sleep disorders, and other symptoms. This article [...] Read more.
In the last decade, Mindfulness-based interventions have been increasingly used in health care settings, particularly in the context of cancer. Research documents the efficacy of these interventions for decreasing the burdens of stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue, sleep disorders, and other symptoms. This article describes the case report of a patient with breast cancer, highlighting her personality, defense mechanisms, and traumatization connected with the disease. General information about the patient’s personal and medical history is presented in addition to the trajectory of psychoncological support, focusing on objectives, intervention strategies based on Mindfulness, and outcomes. The intervention is a combination of individual and group therapies, with particular reference to the use of Mindfulness in a group setting. The goal is to provide the patient with both a peer sharing experience as well as the tools to manage psychoemotional reactions through the development of awareness and a better relationship with herself. The main hypothesized consequences are an increase in self-esteem and coping strategies, which are necessary for a successful adaptation to cancer. The objective of the Mindfulness intervention is to promote the maintenance of an adequate Quality of Life (QoL) and psychological well-being, during and after treatment, transferring these skills into daily life. Full article
8 pages, 249 KiB  
Case Report
The Role of the Psycho-Oncologist during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Clinical Breast Cancer Case Report
Behav. Sci. 2022, 12(7), 211; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs12070211 - 25 Jun 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1533
Abstract
The 2019 coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has been very stressful, but more so for those with cancer. Patients with cancer experienced more pandemic-related stress and psychological distress than those without a cancer diagnosis. This case report, about a breast cancer patient, is presented in [...] Read more.
The 2019 coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has been very stressful, but more so for those with cancer. Patients with cancer experienced more pandemic-related stress and psychological distress than those without a cancer diagnosis. This case report, about a breast cancer patient, is presented in order to emphasize (1) the importance of the management of psychological care in oncology, (2) the need for a thorough understanding of the efficacy of the role of the psycho-oncologist and related interventions in a breast care unit for the health of both patients and professionals to improve clinical outcomes, and (3) the emerging health concerns of breast cancer patients in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Full article
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