HSR21-056: The Effect of a Christian-Based Support Group on the Emotional Health of Cancer Survivors and Caregivers

Authors: Sarah Kivett RN, BSN, OCN, CHPN1 and Karen Tripp MS, LMFT1
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  • 1 Cancer Companions, Cottleville, MO

Introduction: Clinically significant depression and anxiety have been shown to negatively impact cancer treatment tolerance, quality of life, and overall survivorship. Conversely, scientific literature has demonstrated the stress-buffering effects of religion and spirituality on physiological processes such as reduced cardiovascular reactivity, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activation, and inflammation. These results underscore the importance of attending to patients’ religious and spiritual needs as part of comprehensive cancer care. As such, the purpose of this investigation was to determine if a religious-based support program improves the overall emotional health of individuals who were battling cancer. Methods: 110 cancer patients, survivors and caregivers were invited to participate in a Christian-based cancer support program through church announcements, personal invitations, website and social media. The program lasted 9 weeks. At the final meeting, participants were asked to complete evaluation forms on the program. Data from the survey was tabulated and group means were calculated. Results: The Christian-based support group had a positive impact on the emotional wellbeing of cancer patients. Of those surveyed, 91% felt that their anxiety had improved or greatly improved throughout the study period. Moreover, depression scores decreased by 79%. Conclusions: These results underscore the importance of a faith-based program as a component of a comprehensive cancer care plan.

Corresponding Author: Sarah Kivett, RN, BSN, OCN, CHPN
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