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Phone Therapy Reduces PTSD After Stem Cell Transplant

Last Updated: July 14, 2010.

A series of telephone-administered cognitive behavioral therapy sessions can significantly improve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and general distress after hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation, according to research published online July 12 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

WEDNESDAY, July 14 (HealthDay News) -- A series of telephone-administered cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) sessions can significantly improve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and general distress after hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT), according to research published online July 12 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Katherine N. DuHamel, Ph.D., of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and colleagues randomly assigned 89 HSCT survivors to assessment-only or to a CBT group that completed 10 individual telephone-based CBT sessions involving strategies to reduce general distress, PTSD symptoms, and depression.

The researchers found that individuals in the telephone CBT group reported fewer illness-related PTSD symptoms, including less avoidance, decreased intrusive thoughts, less general distress, and fewer depressive symptoms. These results were not significantly changed even after controlling for potential demographic and medical covariates, and remained similar at six, nine, and 12 months after the initial assessment.

"This telephone intervention may be readily disseminated to geographically dispersed survivors and those with physical impairments that limit their abilities to take advantage of in-person treatments. In addition, telephone-based counseling may be preferable for some survivors with PTSD who avoid contact with the hospital because of the anxiety it provokes. The next step is to disseminate this intervention and to increase awareness of PTSD symptoms and their treatment among HSCT survivors, their families, and their health care team," the authors write.

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