Reducing Anxiety in Cancer Patients

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Reducing Anxiety in Cancer Patients

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Introduction:

Anxiety in cancer patients is a major problem in clinical practice that nurses have to tackle in their day to day treatment plans. Traeger et al. (2012) describes anxiety in cancer patients as a dynamic response due to a perceived threat, and emphasizes that it has a behavior of fluctuating at various points of the disease and treatment process. While there are many etiological factors associated with anxiety in chronic patients like those suffering from cancer, a good proportion of the patients are likely to suffer anxiety due to the uncertainty of their disease prognosis. The methods of interventions are varied, from medications to psychotherapy. In cancer patients, anxiety counts as one of the major issues that nurses deal with on a daily basis. An effective intervention is thus advisable for positive outcomes. The paper examines the interventions geared towards reducing anxiety in cancer patients.

Background information/Current Practice:

Despite the various ways used in treating and reducing anxiety in cancer patients, it has remained a daunting problem that nurses have to handle on a daily basis. A meta-analysis study by Traeger et al. (2012) concerning the effectiveness of treating anxiety in cancer patients support the use of medications and psychotherapeutic approaches. In an examination of evidence-based literature, Traeger et al. (2012) found that evidence-based literature pointed to the use of medications and psychotherapy to reduce anxiety in cancer patients. Paul et al. (2008) suggest that psychosocial interventions have been used in the treatment of anxiety in cancer patients, and that, to a greater extent, they are effective. Blackwell (2011) supports the use of music in the treatment of anxiety in cancer patients. He asserts that music and music therapy experiences are effective in promoting psychological well-being in patients suffering from anxiety related to a cancer diagnosis. However, such practices like music therapy have not been practiced much in the hospitals. Much of the interventions have majored on medications, psychological therapy and behavioral therapy. Since this problem is still prevalent, despite the many studies done in the area, it is prudent to investigate more on the most effective measures for reducing anxiety in cancer patients.

Literature Search/Evidence-Based Interventions:

i). Music Therapy

Blackwell (2011) conducted a study to investigate the effectiveness of music in the treatment of anxiety in the cancer patient. The study involved analyzing evidence from a total of 1891 patients, as well as, 13 control trials. Considering the clinical anxiety scores, the researchers found that music reduced anxiety in cancer patients to a very great extent. Blackwell (2011) notes that, in the experiments, much benefits were reported in some trials than others. Apart from reducing anxiety in patients, Blackwell notes that music therapy also has a significant effect on improving patient’s quality of life. Mood and pain also benefited from music therapy, according to the study. It was also established that there was a small benefit to blood pressure, respiratory rate and heart rate.

Stanczyk (2011) also supports the use of music therapy as a complementary measure for treating cancer, targeted at reducing anxiety. According Stanczyk, the traditional methods of treating anxiety in cancer patients using medications are very traumatizing for chemotherapy and radiotherapy patients. He thus argues that the psychological and emotional damage that a patient experiences after the diagnosis of cancer can be handled using music therapies, such as instrumental improvisation and singing. Additionally, receptive music techniques as listening to recorded music also serves to improve outcomes in the reduction of anxiety in cancer patients. Stanczyk (2011) thus suggests that music should be considered as an ingredient in the plan of care for cancer patients undergoing treatment.

  1. ii) Psychosocial Care

A more practiced intervention in the treatment of cancer anxiety is psychosocial care. Paul et al. (2008) observes that psychosocial care has been observed as one of the core elements of a comprehensive treatment for cancer. The incorporation of psychosocial care is to target the reduction of anxiety, which is an essential component of the disease process in people suffering from cancer. The process of psychosocial intervention starts with good communication skills at the point of diagnosis. The perception with which a patient receives the news about cancer may predispose them to anxiety. The psychosocial intervention thus includes communication therapeutically to the patient to reduce anxiety.

Guo et al. (2013) supports this evidence-based practice and applauds psychotherapy as measures of reducing anxiety in cancer. The authors argue that, apart from reducing anxiety in cancer patients, psychotherapy also functions to improve the quality of life of the patients. They outline various ways of instituting psychotherapy, including psychoeducation, cognitive behavior therapy and supportive-expressive therapy. In line with psychotherapeutic interventions, Guo et al. (2013) recognize the role of training in the delivery of psychological care. They emphasize that, for good results t.............


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