Collaborative Care Program for Elderly with Cancer Shows Promise

As might be imagined, a number of elderly people who struggle with various forms of cancer also experience thoughts and feelings of depression, an issue which has prompted those in several disciplines of medicine to seek new ways to help improve the quality of life of this specific group. While the administration of antidepressant medications is an option taken by many general practice physicians, a strong push to supplement such treatments with more reliable, potentially beneficial counseling and other mental health services has gained momentum in recent years, one of the results of which is a study evaluating the efficacy of a new collaborative treatment program for seniors with cancer.

The program, dubbed IMPACT, or Improving Mood-Promoting Access to Collaborative Treatment, focused on providing elderly cancer patients in a study group with direction and support for any antidepressant or other psychiatric drugs being taken, along with supportive counseling treatment in a structured environment on a consistent schedule, including participation in pleasant events and the introduction of problem resolution strategies. The researchers involved with the study found that those participants who took part in the IMPACT program had a significantly higher rate of recovery than those who received usual care, a difference of 21% in favor of the collaborative approach.

In addition to this basic advantage in mood and outlook improvement, those in the IMPACT program exhibited higher remission rates during a one-year follow-up, and reported fewer thoughts about death along with lower rates of fatigue and an overall improvement in quality of life. Similar programs employing group therapy have been shown to greatly aid elderly people struggling with cancer, and this study helps to bolster the argument for incorporating a personal, human, therapeutic treatment element rather than relying entirely on medications.

© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • CUNNINGHAM

    CUNNINGHAM

    October 31st, 2009 at 3:50 AM

    Great to hear of this noble program. Also, children of older people suffering from cancer can help in making them feel better by not treating them like just a responsibility and also staying with them rather than just sending them to old-age homes… love is a great medicine after all…

  • Edwin

    Edwin

    November 1st, 2009 at 2:32 AM

    It is true that love and care, when combined with medication does lead to a beter feeling among patients of any disorder in general…humans are built that way…

  • Lisa

    Lisa

    November 1st, 2009 at 12:12 PM

    Love this idea- wish that there were more physicians and medical teams which would encourage this type of approach to health, recovery, and wellness. I think that issues like this could make a hugely positive improvement in our medical system.

  • soldy

    soldy

    November 1st, 2009 at 8:26 PM

    Being in a kind of healing circle such as this is an excellent idea. When you combine all those approaches rather than concentrating on a single one, surely you increase the odds of getting better faster. I believe your mindset plays a significant role in physical healing although of course sometimes sadly the disease is incurable.

  • Victoria L.

    Victoria L.

    November 1st, 2009 at 8:52 PM

    What I find sad is when people draw away from cancer patients and their families. When my friend was ill both she and her parents commented on being avoided by people they had known for a lifetime. That seriously hurt their feelings. Always say something rather than nothing even if all you can squeeze out is “I’m sorry to hear you’re ill.”

  • Joseph

    Joseph

    November 2nd, 2009 at 2:48 AM

    It’s great that a program like this has been drawn up. Its sad when doctors stop being sensitive to elder patients in terminal illnesses.

  • Amanda

    Amanda

    November 2nd, 2009 at 2:52 AM

    Is this available in all countries or only in America?

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