(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – Clinicians who work with patients who have advanced cancer should consider Individual Meaning-Centered Psychotherapy (IMCP), which was found to have “clear short-term benefits for spiritual suffering and quality of life,” according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology published online February 27.

The pilot randomized controlled trial, conducted at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, NY, randomly assigned 120 patients with stage III or IV cancer to seven sessions of IMCP or therapeutic massage. The IMCP was developed to address the need for brief interventions that targeted spiritual well-being and meaning for this patient population.

Patients were assessed before the intervention, after completing the intervention, and two months following the intervention. Spiritual well-being and quality of life were the primary outcome measures; other outcomes included anxiety, depression, hopelessness, symptom burden, and symptom-related distress.

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A total of 78 patients (65%) completed the post-treatment assessment; 67 (56%) completed the two-month follow-up. Those in the IMCP group had significantly greater improvement in spiritual well-being — including sense of meaning and faith — and quality of life than those in the therapeutic massage group. The IMCP group also had significantly greater improvements in symptom burden and symptom-related distress; however, anxiety, depression, or hopelessness did not significantly improve. At the two-month follow-up, no significant differences were observed between the IMCP and therapeutic massage groups.