An Oncology Times article caught my eye: "Relieving Major Depression in Cancer Patients: Specific 'Biopsychosocial' Method Found Useful." It reviewed a study that addressed the impact of an intervention developed to treat depression, reduce stress and help patients develop coping strategies.
Some interesting findings included significant reductions in patients' fatigue and improved mental health quality of life.
For the intervention, in addition to relaxation exercises and teaching sessions (about their disease, side effects, communicating needs, problem solving), participating patients were asked to identify activities that had previously brought them pleasure and then encouraged to find ways to reincorporate these activities into their lives.
For years, in keynotes to clinicians I suggest they ask their patients three questions:
- What activity no longer brings you joy?
- What keeps you from that joy?
- What brings you joy now?
It can be an efficient tool to help clinicians...
- elicit information about new symptoms
- clarify the severity and impact of known symptoms
- provide insight into the patient’s adjustment to changes and losses
- gauge patient's resiliency
I explain why I believe these questions can strengthen clinician-patient bonds: Happiness has nothing to do with cancer cells and everything to do with the person with cancer.