Evaluating alternative therapies. Support/imagery and immune function in breast cancer: A pilot study
Cancer patients increasingly request alternative therapies such as imagery techniques and support groups. Although research suggests evidence of enhanced psychosocial functioning with supportive group therapy and enhanced immune function with imagery techniques, studies are anecdotal or limited to case studies or descriptive reports. The efficacy of these alternative therapies should be validated by randomized, controlled trials and the mechanisms of action mediating immune function and outcome examined. In a 12-month pilot study, we evaluate the feasibility of conducting a controlled study with clinical trial methodology to test the effects of imagery/relaxation and support on quality of life, emotional well-being, and immune function for women after breast cancer. Using a randomized pre-post test design with three intervention waves, we assigned women (n = 47) to either standard care (n = 15), standard care plus 6-weekly support sessions (n = 16) or imagery/relaxation sessions (n = 16). The primary aim of this pilot study is to determine the feasibility of conducting a clinical trial of alternative therapies in a clinical care setting. Secondary aims are to determine parameter estimates for the effects of the two treatment groups on quality of life, coping, social support, and immune function and describe methodology issues related to trials of alternative therapies. The research provides direction for future studies of alternative therapies by describing the recruitment, clinical trial experience, and related methodology issues. The study extends previous work by differentiating the effects of support group from mental imagery among outpatient groups who are homogeneous regarding cancer type and treatment stage. The study provides data for future longitudinal studies of disease progression by differentiating the effectiveness of interventions designed to enhance quality of life, coping, social support, and immune function and subsequently, alter the clinical course of disease.
Richardson, Mary Ann, "Evaluating alternative therapies. Support/imagery and immune function in breast cancer: A pilot study" (1995). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9631378.