Psychosocial interventions in cancer

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.311.7016.1316 (Published 18 November 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1316
  1. Lesley Fallowfield
  1. Reader in psycho-oncology CRC Communication and Counselling Research Centre, Department of Oncology, University College London Medical School, Bland Sutton Institute, London W1P 7PL

    Should be part of every patient's management plan

    Growing awareness of the many psychosocial problems associated with malignant disease and its treatment has led to the development of a myriad of supportive interventions for patients and their families. These interventions range from traditional approaches such as psychotherapy to the less orthodox music therapy and aromatherapy. They may be offered formally or informally by health care professionals or by lay volunteers, including patients themselves. Some psychosocial interventions, such as counselling by specialist nurses in breast cancer units, have been incorporated into the routine care of patients with cancer. Other interventions may be provided outside hospitals by a wide variety of self help groups or national and local cancer support organisations. In addition, private practitioners offer everything from psychotherapy to therapeutic massage on a fee paying basis.

    The mere existence of so many different approaches shows that the demand for this form of support is considerable. The question for patients and purchasing authorities is: what impact do these forms of psychosocial intervention have on the wellbeing of patients with cancer? Despite considerable anecdotal evidence attesting to their …

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