CanCOPE 'Step by Step': The effectiveness of a couple-based intervention program for women diagnosed with breast or gynecological cancer
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Zimmermann, T and Heinrichs, N and Scott, JL, CanCOPE 'Step by Step': The effectiveness of a couple-based intervention program for women diagnosed with breast or gynecological cancer, Verhaltenstherapie, 16, (4) pp. 247-255. ISSN 1016-6262 (2006) [Refereed Article]
Background: Cancer diagnosis is a stressful event not only for the patient but also for the partner. A conjoint process of mutual support has been suggested to be an effective coping strategy. The effectiveness of a preventive couple-based coping intervention (CanCOPE) for breast and gynecological cancer patients was investigated. Patients and Methods: 38 couples with breast or gynecological cancer participated in the program. In sum, 5 sessions that focused on cancer psychoeducation, supportive communication, partner support and coping skills training were conducted at the couples' homes. The couples completed a comprehensive self-report assessment battery at time of diagnosis (pre), after the 4th intervention session (post) and 6 months after the intervention (fu). Results: In both patients and partners moderate to large effects at post and follow-up occurred in individual psychological distress. In particular, depressive symptoms were reduced, whereas personal growth, quality of life and benefit finding increased. Positive effects also showed in coping with the disease. The positive influence on self acceptance of body image could be confirmed, but not so on the partner acceptance. The initially high levels of dyadic coping and partnership satisfaction remained stable over the time, so that no significant effects were found. Discussion: Both partners benefited from this brief intervention. This pilot study advocates further systematic studies of couple-based interventions in women with breast or gynecological cancer. The lack of a control group is a limitation of this study although small to moderate intervention effects remain if small to moderate time effects for which a control group usually 'controls' are taken into consideration. © 2006 S. Karger GmbH.
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