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Evaluating the effectiveness of an education group intervention on the psychological wellbeing of breast cancer patients

Breast cancer (BC) is a significant health problem for New Zealand (NZ) women, with approximately 3,300 women diagnosed every year. Psychosocial distress is commonly associated with a BC diagnosis; 20-50% of women with BC will suffer from psychological distress within the first year after diagnosis. Distress is associated with less adherence to treatment; exacerbated preexisting psychological and psychiatric conditions; slower recovery from surgery and other treatment; and poor Quality of Life (QOL) and well-being. To treat distress, the Cancer Society of New Zealand, a local organisation that helps cancer patients, delivers a psychoeducational intervention called the Living Well (LW) programme. This programme deals with emotions, relaxation, perceptions, coping, self-care, and informs patients about their cancer, treatment and what to expect. Very little research has been done in NZ to assess the effectiveness of such programmes. To evaluate the effectiveness of the LW programme for individual BC patients, a repeated measures design was used to investigate the effect of the programme as measured by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), a screening tool commonly used to identify anxiety and depression in BC patients. Stage I-II BC patients referred to the Cancer Society and enrolled in the LW programme were recruited for the study. HADS scores were collected and analysed weekly using a repeated measures design prior to, during and after the intervention (LW programme). Analysis shows that the participants reacted similarly to the LW programme, as demonstrated by their HADS scores. Across all phases of the study (baseline, intervention and post-intervention) mean depression scores were lower than anxiety scores. During baseline mean anxiety scores were slightly higher, on average, than the intervention and post-intervention phases. While no consistent systematic effect on well-being from attending the LW programme was found, psychosocial distress in the breast cancer patients recruited for the study was evident. Therefore, there is value and benefit to provide interventions, to aid women by providing information so that they are better informed, can develop improved coping strategies, and develop new avenues for social support.
Type of thesis
Ryan, B. (2020). Evaluating the effectiveness of an education group intervention on the psychological wellbeing of breast cancer patients (Thesis, Master of Applied Psychology (MAppPsy)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13657
The University of Waikato
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