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The Effectiveness of Psychosocial Interventions for Psychological Outcomes in Pediatric Oncology: A Systematic Review

Journal title
Journal of pain and symptom management
Publication year
Coughtrey, A.; Millington, A.; Bennett, S.; Christie, D.; Hough, R.; Su, M. T.; Constantinou, M. P.; Shafran, R.

CONTEXT: This review summarizes the current randomized controlled trials literature on psychological and physical outcomes of psychosocial interventions in pediatric oncology. OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of psychosocial interventions in children with cancer. METHODS: A search of the literature resulted in a total of 12 randomized clinical trials and these have evaluated psychosocial interventions in children younger than 18 years with current and previous diagnoses of cancer. Outcome measures were both psychological (e.g., symptoms of anxiety, depression, quality of life, and self-esteem) and physical (e.g., cancer symptoms, treatment adherence, and pain). Interventions identified included cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT; n = 4), joint CBT and physical exercise therapy (n = 1), family therapy (n = 2), therapeutic music video (n = 2), self-coping strategies (n = 1), a wish fulfillment intervention (n = 1), and joint family therapy and CBT (n = 1). RESULTS: Nine studies reported statistically significant improvements on psychological outcomes. These findings suggest that psychosocial interventions are effective at reducing anxiety and depressive symptoms as well as improving quality of life. Additionally, six studies found psychosocial interventions to have a positive impact on physical symptoms and well-being, including a reduction in procedural pain and symptom distress. CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that mental health needs in pediatric oncology patients can and should be addressed, potentially which will lead to better mental and physical health outcomes.

Research abstracts