CU-Boulder researchers are embarking on a multi-year research project to study and address the psychological concerns of cancer survivors, including elevated anxiety.
Previous studies have shown that high anxiety may last for over a decade after the conclusion of a patient’s cancer treatment, leading to other detrimental quality of life effects and higher medical costs.
The four-year-long study, funded by the American Cancer Society and conducted in collaboration with Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, will study the benefits of mindfulness- and acceptance-based group skills relative to usual care. Group sessions will be held in local communities across Colorado.
“Elevated anxiety is one of the most under-addressed concerns when it comes to cancer survivors,” said Joanna Arch, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at CU-Boulder and the lead investigator of the study. “These feelings can be particularly intense during a patient’s re-entry phase, when he or she shifts from being a cancer patient undergoing active treatment to a post-treatment cancer survivor.”
For cancer survivors, these anxieties may be medical, logistical or even existential.
“The primary fear among patients is that the cancer will come back or that another form of the disease will develop,” said Arch. “But others struggle with personal identity questions and find that their pre-cancer priorities no longer fit with their post-cancer self. Their sense of meaning has shifted and that can lead to a complete re-evaluation of the people and priorities in their lives.”
This study will evaluate the efficacy of an intervention treatment based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a novel, evidence-based approach. ACT promotes forms of coping that predict positive psychosocial outcomes among cancer survivors: actively accepting cancer-related distress, reducing cancer-related avoidance, clarifying personal values, and committing to meaningful behavior change.
The project is designed to take place within a community-based cancer center network across the state, reflecting the community settings where the vast majority of patients receive care.
The findings may have implications for future therapeutic care and provide cancer patients with more effective options for reducing their anxiety.
The study is actively recruiting volunteers in the Front Range, particularly the greater Boulder, Denver, Aurora and Longmont areas.
Cancer survivors who wish to participate in an upcoming session are advised that the next study group will be held in Longmont beginning April 21. Those interested may contact the study team at 303-492-7901 or email@example.com. For more information, visit http://tinyurl.com/ValuedLivingStudy.