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Minerva Psichiatrica 2017 March;58(1):1-9

DOI: 10.23736/S0391-1772.17.01916-1

Copyright © 2016 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Cognitive thought diary in supportive psychology for people undergoing radiotherapy: a feasibility study

Giovanna MARRAZZO 1, Laura FERRARO 2, Clara MEO 3, Lucia SIDELI 2, Alice MULÈ 1, Caterina LA CASCIA 2, Veronica CAPUCCIO 4, Anna M. MARINARO 2, Rosalinda RIZZO 2, Nadia VALENZIANO 2, Oriana LUPO 2, Giovanna ALAIMO 2, Claudia MICELI 2, Daniela MEDUSA 2, Ivan FAZIO 5, Daniele LA BARBERA 2

1 Department of Psychiatry, “Paolo Giaccone” University Policlinic, Palermo, Italy; 2 Department of Experimental Biomedicine and Clinical Neurosciences (BIONEC), University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy; 3 LILT (Lega Italiana Lotta ai Tumori), Pisa, Italy; 4 Department of Economics, Business and Statistics (SEAS), University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy; 5 Macchiarella Nursing Home, Palermo, Italy


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BACKGROUND: Radiation therapy (RT) has become one of the most widely-used and efficient treatments for cancer; nevertheless, people who undergo radiotherapy suffer the physical and psychological consequences of this stressful treatment, in addition to the psychosocial distress related to cancer. However, a Radiotherapy Unit is often a place where several patients crowd in from various hospitals with restricted timetables and, for logistic reasons, it is not easy to provide regular psychological sessions for each one. It is important to find a setting that allows us the involvement of the largest number of patients referred to the unit. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the feasibility and the effect of a brief intervention of cognitive-oriented diary on the quality of life, anxiety and depressive symptoms of patients undergoing radiotherapy (RT), compared to a control group.
METHODS: The sample was constituted of 68 experimental subjects and 78 controls, treated with RT. Both groups were assessed with the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20), the Hamilton Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and the EORTC-QLQ at the beginning and at the end of their RT. Experimental subjects were instructed to report emotions and thoughts before attending the RT sessions in a thought diary.
RESULTS: The experimental group showed a good adherence to the diary, a reduction in mean scores of anxiety (P<0.001), depression (P<0.001), and alexithymia (P<0.001) together with an ameliorative effect on quality of life (P<0.014), compared to control group.
CONCLUSIONS: We observed a reduction in alexithymia scores in the experimental group, together with a significant reduction in anxiety and depression symptoms and an improvement in quality of life, with a moderator role of social disparity in treatment adherence. Our outcomes suggest the opportunity to consider the diary an affordable and effective device for psychologists operating in RT units, able to be extended to the majority of patients, in a simple and replicable setting.


KEY WORDS: Psychology - Diaries - Feasibility Studies - Radiation oncology

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