Problem-solving training helps moms of kids with cancer

aced by a parent whose child has just been diagnosed with cancer.

A follow-up evaluation three months after the initial assessment revealed that women given both the training and standard services show consistently healthy changes in their problem-solving styles and moods.

When faced with a problem, they are far more likely to remain positive and rational in seeking solutions than they were prior to the training. At the same time, they are slightly less likely than before to act impulsively or try to avoid finding a solution.

Moreover, the women who receive both training and standard services tend to experience significant relief from their emotional distress, reporting less anxiety, depression, anger and confusion.

The reactions of women who receive only conventional help, the researchers found, are inconsistent. On the average, the problem-solving styles and moods of these women take a slight turn for the worse.

Sahler envisions similar training being used to help other family members and even health care providers cope with a variety of challenging illnesses.

As helpful as the training is, Sahler notes that a slight shift in focus and content might make it even more powerful. The sessions in the present study focused on, and clearly succeeded in, increasing constructive behaviors. Yet it appears that the smaller reduction in the womens unproductive behaviors was responsible for their improved moods.

Future research, she suggests, should therefore focus on enhancing the effects of [the training] on dysfunctional problem solving while at least maintaining its effects on constructive problem solving.


Contact: Travis Anderson
Center for the Advancement of Health

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