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.
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