ACT in ACTion: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy(ACT) presented in a group format to cancer patients — ASN Events

ACT in ACTion: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy(ACT) presented in a group format to cancer patients (#524)

Sue McConaghey 1
  1. Psycho-oncology Service, Central Coast Local Health Network, NSW, Australia

Aim: this study considered the efficacy of a group program of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy(ACT) in improving psychological flexibility and decreasing psychological distress in cancer patients.

Method: 32 cancer patients with a range of cancers, recruited by advertising the program through multidisciplinary networks, participated in an ACT group for two hours a week for six weeks.  Measures were the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale(DASS), the Mental Adjustment to Cancer Scale(subscales are Fighting Spirit, Anxious Pre-occupation and Fatalism) and the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire, version 2 (AAQ-II).  Data were collected at pre- and post-intervention and at 6-week follow-up.  Participants also completed a group evaluation at the conclusion of the program.

Results: 26(19 females, 7 males) of the 32 participants completed more than 5 of the 6 sessions.   The five groups ranged in size from 4 to 15 participants.  Significant differences were found pre- and post-group for Depression(p=0.0322), Stress(p=0.0147), Fighting Spirit(p=0.0364) and Anxious Pre-occupation(p=0.0016). Significant differences for Fatalism were found between pre- and follow-up measures(p=0.0463).  There were no significant differences between pre- and follow-up and post- and follow-up measures.  there were no significant differences found for Anxiety(DASS) or Psychological Flexibility, nor between pre- and follow-up scores on either the DASS measures or the AAQ-II.

Conclusions: the reported changes in psychological distress support further research into the role of group programs.  Further research is also needed to investigate what components of the therapy are alleviating psychological distress, given the lack of change in psychological flexibility found in this study.