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A coping and communication support intervention tailored to older patients diagnosed with late-stage cancer

Authors Rose JH, Radziewicz R, Bowman KF, O'Toole EA

Published 7 March 2008 Volume 2008:3(1) Pages 77—95


Julia Hannum Rose1,2,3, Rosanne Radziewicz4, Karen F Bowman5, Elizabeth E O’Toole1

1Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH, USA; 2Louis Stokes Cleveland VAMC-GRECC, Cleveland, OH, USA; 3Center for Health Care Research and Policy, Case at MetroHealth Medical Center, Cleveland, OH, USA; 4Department of Nursing, MetroHealth Medical Center, Cleveland, OH, USA; 5Department of Sociology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, USA

Abstract: As our society ages, increasing numbers of older Americans will be diagnosed and eventually will die of cancer. To date, psycho-oncology interventions for advanced cancer patients have been more successful in reaching younger adult age groups and generally have not been designed to respond to the unique needs and preferences of older patients. Theories and research on successful aging (Baltes and Baltes 1990; Baltes 1997), health information processing style (Miller 1995; Miller et al 2001) and non-directive client-centered therapy (Rogers 1951, 1967), have guided the development of a coping and communication support (CCS) intervention. Key components of this age-sensitive and tailored intervention are described, including problem domains addressed, intervention strategies used and the role of the CCS practitioner. Age group comparisons in frequency of contact, problems raised and intervention strategies used during the first six weeks of follow up indicate that older patients were similar to middle-aged patients in their level of engagement, problems faced and intervention strategies used. Middle-aged patients were more likely to have problems communicating with family members at intervention start up and practical problems as well in follow up contacts. This is the first intervention study specifically designed to be age sensitive and to examine age differences in engagement from the early treatment phase for late-stage cancer through end of life. This tailored intervention is expected to positively affect patients’ quality of care and quality of life over time.

Keywords: aging, psycho-oncology interventions, advanced cancer, supportive care

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