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Study shows that problem-solving training helps mothers cope with child's cancer diagnosis
Date:2/12/2013

A multi-site clinical trial including the University of Colorado Cancer Center shows that the benefit of Bright IDEAS problem-solving skills training goes beyond teaching parents to navigate the complex medical, educational, and other systems that accompany a child's diagnosis of cancer the training also leads to durable reduction in mothers' levels of anxiety and symptoms of posttraumatic stress, and improves overall coping with a child's illness. Results of the study were published online last week in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

"Earlier research shows that a mom is the keystone of a family. After a child's cancer diagnosis, if mom is stressed and not coping, you see the effects on the marriage and on siblings as well," says Diane Fairclough, DrPH, MSPH, CU Cancer Center investigator and director of the Analytics Core at the Colorado Health Outcomes Center.

Support the mother and you support the family, including the ill child.

A previous clinical trial had shown the effectiveness of the Bright IDEAS problem-solving skills training, and the current study hoped to disentangle the benefits of the training from the simple, potentially powerful effect of a mother's interaction with a compassionate listener. Was it Bright IDEAS specifically or the byproducts of compassion and understanding once a week for eight weeks that led to mothers' gains?

The results of this multi-site, 309-mother study are interesting: immediately after Bright IDEAS training, mothers showed the same gains as with another intervention called nondirective support, which is effectively compassionate listening. But three months later, the gains from Bright IDEAS remained, while the gains from an understanding ear evaporated. In fact, at the three-month mark, the benefits from problem-solving skills training were growing not only were mothers more adept problem-solvers, but this increased ability transferred to ever-more gains in mood, decreased
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Contact: Garth Sundem
garth.sundem@ucdenver.edu
University of Colorado Denver
Source:Eurekalert

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