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Managing Cancer Side Effects to Improve Quality of Life: A Cancer Psychoeducation Program

Golant, Mitch PhD; Altman, Tamara MA; Martin, Chloe PhD


This study aimed to develop and pilot test a community-based education program that addresses the prevention and management of the major side effects of cancer and its treatment according to a Patient Active Empowerment Model. This piloted program evaluated the health and quality of life outcomes for patients with cancer. The program was implemented through a half-day patient education conference. This conference included clinical information concerning disease and treatment-related side effects, an overview of treatment methods, information to help improve communication between the patient and healthcare team, education materials and experiences to empower patients and caregivers, and integration of specific mind-body techniques to strengthen key educational messages and reinforce the importance of side effect management. A total of 32 patients completed both the program and psychometric assessments on the day of the intervention and 30 days later. The participants were primarily white women with an average age of 57 years. Breast cancer was the most prevalent type of cancer experienced by the participants. The pilot results for this small sample showed that from baseline to follow-up evaluation, patients reported significant decreases in depressive symptoms and problems with work or other daily activities that resulted from emotional distress. Some improvements in health and well-being were greater for those who had not experienced fever or infection, those who had no children, and those who were working. Participants indicated that the program was useful in its ability to help them manage treatment side effects. Although the findings presented in this article are based only on a pilot program evaluation and a small sample, they do suggest that the program may be effective in educating patients about specific cancer side effects and empowering them to cope more effectively with their illness. Results showing that subgroups of individuals may have benefited more from the intervention provide important information about specific components of the program that may be particularly salient and potential changes that might be usefully implemented.

From The Wellness Community-National, Santa Monica, Calif.

Financial support for this research was provided by an unrestricted educational grant by Amgen, Inc.

Corresponding author: Mitch Golant, PhD, The Wellness Community-National, 2716 Ocean Park Blvd, Suite 1040, Santa Monica, CA 90405 (e-mail:

Accepted for publication October 8, 2002.

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.