Creating Meaning Following Cancer: An Intervention to Improve Existential and Global Quality of Life

2014-07-23 21:08:48 | BioPortfolio


The purpose of this study is to test the efficacy of a cognitive-existential intervention (using either an individual or a group format) to improve the existential and global quality of life of patients as compared to usual care in a population of adult non-metastatic cancer patients.


People diagnosed with cancer must learn to cope with loss of meaning and empowerment which compromises quality of life. Questions regarding "Why me?", along with universal existential concerns about death, search for meaning, and sense of control over one's life, often constitute the principal source of overall suffering. Since there is no single and identifiable cause for cancer, those existential questions are commonly observed among patients who demand specific interventions to properly address this central issue. The existential approach can be used to help patients find meaning in the midst of a crisis. It addresses a central issue of survivorship in cancer.

The conceptual model explains the relation between being exposed to a stressful and traumatic life event such as cancer and the risk of progressing toward adjustment difficulties which compromises quality of life and existential integrity. Cancer constitutes a major stressor involving significant losses that confronts the person's beliefs system. A set of therapeutic strategies can help to cope with this inevitable challenge: 1) cognitive-behavioral strategies; 2) direct existential intervention; and 3) social support through supportive-expressive strategies. Adjustment first involves cognitive reframing of the perception of the situation (situational meaning). Cognitive reframing also contributes to a readjustment of personal beliefs and values (global meaning and existential dimension). Existential strategies enable to further this process by including cognitive (beliefs, sense of coherence, expectations), motivational (choice, goal setting, and goal driving) and affective dimensions. The expressive-supportive strategy promotes active listening and non-judgmental support to encourage expression of emotions. The use of these active coping strategies (meaning-based) to the threatened-life challenge enables optimization of existential and global quality of life, as opposed to employing passive strategies such as avoidance.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Factorial Assignment, Masking: Open Label, Primary Purpose: Supportive Care


Non-metastatic Cancer


Cognitive-existential intervention, Usual care


University of Manitoba
R3T 2N2




Centre hospitalier universitaire de Québec

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2014-07-23T21:08:48-0400

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