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Cancer Control Research

5R03CA099488-02
Roper, Kimberly D.
HORMONES, QUALITY OF LIFE & BREAST CANCER SUPPORT GROUPS

Abstract

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Recent studies have indicated a link between social support provided by support groups and outcome in cancer patients. These support groups not only affect the emotional state of the patient, but they may also change the regulation of stress hormones that influence the immune system. Indeed, some studies suggest patients who attend support groups survive longer. Much of what is known is either anecdotal or poorly documented scientifically. Few scientific studies have followed in a systematic manner the behavioral and hormonal responses of participants in these support groups. This study will investigate the acute and long-term effects of an intense weekend psychosocial workshop on stress hormone levels and several psychosocial variables including mood, quality of life, stress and coping. In the proposed study, 30 breast cancer patients will be recruited from a local breast cancer center and randomly assigned to treatment or control group. Participants will complete measures of coping, mood, stress and quality of life upon entry, immediately after the workshop, and at one and six months and one-year follow-ups. Participants will provide saliva samples for assessment of stress hormones in conjunction with psychological testing. Half of the participants will participate in a Qualife Breast Cancer Weekend Wellness workshop consisting of approximately 20 hours of experiential education to improve wellness and coping. After the six-month assessment, the remaining participants will receive the same treatment. The primary hypothesis is that the workshop will normalize regulation of stress hormones, decrease stress, and improve mood, coping, and quality of life.


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