Clinical Trial to Test Internet-Based Support Group for Patients

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While health care may be one of the primary concerns for mesothelioma patients, a number of psychosocial needs also arise after a person receives a diagnosis. Some patients experience denial, anger, depression and confusion, and a number turn to support groups to help process these emotions as they work towards acceptance.

A support group is one useful way for patients to cope with the news and understand they are not alone in their experiences. Unfortunately for some patients, the health complications caused by malignant mesothelioma can be an obstacle for attending support group sessions. Internet-based support groups, however, may help these patients receive the emotional care they need at any time of day from their own home.

A new clinical trial sponsored by The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is being launched to discover how patients deal with their diagnosis and obtain emotional support. The study, titled Psychosocial Needs and Exploration of Online Support for Patients with Mesothelioma, is set to be conducted for a year and is expected to be completed by May 2013.

Questionnaires designed to identify patients’ psychosocial needs will cover topics such as coping, mood, anxiety, depressive symptoms, interpersonal and social support and quality of life. After completing the questionnaires, the study participants may elect to participate in a therapeutic Internet support group lasting one hour each week for six consecutive weeks.

The study is currently recruiting English-speaking pleural cancer patients 18 years old or older who are currently receiving care at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Patients involved with the virtual support group will need to have an email account as well as access to a telephone, computer and the Internet.

The results of the study are intended to “describe the psychological needs of patients with mesothelioma” and “explore the acceptability and promise of an Internet-based support group for patients with mesothelioma.” After analyzing the enrollment and completion rates, the researchers can gauge the acceptability and promise of such virtual interventions and potentially develop more effective Internet-based support groups for patients.

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After graduating with an English degree from Southeastern University in 2010, Faith Franz came on board as a health and wellness writer for The Mesothelioma Center.

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