Researchers from Stanford University have put forward a “call to action” for the cancer community to focus on developing interventions that help patients with cancer develop more adaptive mindsets. This article was published in Trends in Cancer.
Noting that cancer is a disease associated with negative psychosocial as well as physical effects, the authors of this article pointed to research in other disciplines demonstrating the benefits of mindfulness-based stress reduction.
With a focus on mindsets, defined as beliefs about the nature and workings of things in the world, and described as simplified understandings about what is possible, the article authors proposed approaches for helping patients with cancer shift their mindset from one in which cancer is viewed as a catastrophe to one in which cancer is seen as an opportunity for positive change, albeit a change with many challenges.
“Just as more precise cancer treatments have become widely available, it is time for wise psychosocial interventions to become the standard of supportive care in oncology,” the authors opined.
Specifically, they suggested the implementation of “precisely targeted, well-timed, and relatively brief mindset interventions,” to help motivate patients to become more active participants in the management of their care. For example, remotely administered interactive, online, multimedia modules created by interdisciplinary teams of psychologists, clinicians, and designers were suggested as an approach to facilitate positive mindset changes in patients with cancer. The authors further posited that patients can modify their mindsets by interacting with and drawing on the experiences of cancer survivors viewed as “similar.” In addition, training cancer care providers to identify maladaptive patient mindsets and to work with their patients to reshape them in positive ways was another strategy proposed by the authors.
In their closing remarks, the authors expressed their hope that this article would be viewed as “an inspiring call to action for granting agencies, medical institutions, and the health care establishment to recognize the potential of precise psychological interventions, like those that target mindsets, to better support patients as they navigate cancer.”
Zion SR, Schapira L, Crum AJ. Targeting mindsets, not just tumors [published online September 2019].Trends in Cancer. https://marlin-prod.literatumonline.com/pb-assets/journals/trends/cancer/TRECAN_377.pdf. Accessed October 3, 2019.