Meaning-based Therapy may aid terminal patients

Meaning-based Therapy may aid terminal patients

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Psychotherapy focused on spirituality and finding meaning may help improve quality of life and well-being in terminally ill cancer patients, suggests a new study from a large cancer treatment center.

The talk therapy sessions only seemed to provide a short-term benefit — though researchers said that was reasonable given that many of the study participants were near the end of their lives, with progressively worsening disease. The study’s lead author said that while hospice and palliative care doctors and nurses are well-versed in treating pain and nausea, for example, there hasn’t been definitive evidence on the treatment of non-physical symptoms in very ill patients.

“What palliative care clinicians have not had up until now are interventions that have shown some effectiveness in dealing with issues like loss of meaning, feeling demoralized (and) a loss of sense of spiritual well-being,” said Dr. William Breitbart, from New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

“This is a new tool,” he told Reuters Health. “It gives more structure to what people are already attempting to do.”

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