Lead author Paul. B. Jacobsen and Heather S.L. Jim of the Moffitt Cancer Center said the assessment of quality-of-life factors is important, but many of the measurements for assessing quality of life, particularly for cancer survivors, need development.
"Quality of life is a multidimensional construct about daily functioning -- from physical to social -- which is most often assessed by patient self-report," Jim said in a statement. "It is important that clinical trials include quality of life as an endpoint because if two treatments are found to work equally well, the treatment that offers the best quality of life for cancer survivors should be prescribed."
For example, in a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the researchers who teamed with colleagues at five U.S. universities concluded psychosocial interventions could have an effect on patient's pain severity during cancer treatment.
"Our study looked at randomized, controlled studies of psychosocial interventions for pain published between 1966 and 2010 in which pain was measured as an outcome for adults with cancer or those undergoing procedures to diagnose cancer," Jacobsen said.
The researchers analyzed 37 past studies and found that the most successful psychosocial, non-pharmacological interventions were skill-based or educational.
"Skill-based interventions focused on changing a patient's dysfunctional beliefs about pain and promoted the use of skills -- such as distraction and relaxation -- to manage it," Jacobsen said. "We found that psychosocial interventions could improve pain severity and interference with daily activities."
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