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May 1981

Group Support for Patients With Metastatic Cancer: A Randomized Prospective Outcome Study

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, Calif (Drs Spiegel and Yalom); and the Department of Social and Administrative Health Sciences, University of California, Berkeley (Dr Bloom).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1981;38(5):527-533. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1980.01780300039004

• The effects of weekly supportive group meetings for women with metastatic carcinoma of the breast were systematically evaluated in a one-year, randomized, prospective outcome study. The groups focused on the problems of terminal illness, including improving relationships with family, friends, and physicians and living as fully as possible in the face of death. We hypothesized that this intervention would lead to improved mood, coping strategies, and self-esteem among those in the treatment group. Eighty-six patients were tested at four-month intervals. The treatment group had significantly lower mooddisturbance scores on the Profile of Mood States scale, had fewer maladaptive coping responses, and were less phobic than the control group. This study provides objective evidence that a supportive group intervention for patients with metastatic cancer results in psychological benefit. Mechanisms underlying the effectiveness of this group intervention are explored.