(HealthDay News) – For adults with cancer, psycho-oncologic interventions, such as relaxation, individual and group psychotherapy, and psychoeducation, may be effective in producing significant small-to-medium improvement in patients’ emotional distress and quality of life, according to a study published in the Feb. 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

To examine the effects of psycho-oncologic interventions on emotional distress and quality of life in adult cancer patients, Hermann Faller, MD, PhD, of the University of Würzburg in Germany, and colleagues identified 198 studies involving 22,238 patients through a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature that reported 218 treatment-control comparisons.

The researchers found that individual and group psychotherapy and psychoeducation interventions were associated with significant small-to-medium effects, which were partially sustained in the medium (≤6 months) and long term (longer than six months). Relaxation training had a short-term effect. At post-treatment, larger effects were seen for participants who were preselected according to increased distress. Longer interventions correlated with more sustained effects. For some effects, particularly with individual psychotherapy and relaxation training, there was evidence of small-sample bias.

“Various types of psycho-oncologic interventions are associated with significant, small-to-medium effects on emotional distress and quality of life,” the authors write. “These results should be interpreted with caution, however, because of the low quality of reporting in many of the trials.”

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