Altern Ther Health Med. 1997 Sep; 3(5): 62-70.
Coping, life attitudes, and immune responses to imagery and group support after breast cancer treatment.
Center for Alternative Medicine Research, University of Texas-Houston School of Public Health, USA.
BACKGROUND: The pilot study used clinical trial methodology to differentiate the effects of imagery and support on coping, life attitudes, immune function, quality of life, and emotional well-being after breast cancer. METHODS: Women (N = 47) who completed treatment for primary breast cancer, excluding stage IV, were randomly assigned to standard care (n = 15) or six weekly support (n = 16) or imagery (n = 16) sessions. Self-report measures included Ways of Coping-Cancer, Life Attitude Profile, Quality of Life (FACT-B), Profile of Mood States, and Functional Support. Immune measures included natural killer cell activity, plasma neopterin, interferon-gamma, interleukins 1 alpha, 1 beta, and 2, and beta-endorphin levels. Differences between groups over time were tested using general linear models, adjusted for pretest score and covariates (age, stage, and months posttreatment). RESULTS: For all women, interferon-gamma increased, neopterin decreased, quality of life improved, and natural killer activity remained unchanged. Compared with standard care, both interventions improved coping skills (seeking support) and perceived social support, and tended to enhance meaning in life. Support boosted overall coping and death acceptance. When comparing imagery with support, imagery participants tended to have less stress, increased vigor, and improved functional and social quality of life. CONCLUSION: Although imagery reduced stress and improved quality of life, both imagery and support improved coping, attitudes, and perception of support. The clinical implications of these changes warrant further testing.