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A Randomized Controlled Trial of Group Psychotherapy Interventions for Cancer Patients

Phase 3
21 Years
Open (Enrolling)
Palliative Care

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Trial Information

A Randomized Controlled Trial of Group Psychotherapy Interventions for Cancer Patients

To conduct a randomized controlled trial comparing the efficacy of Meaning-Centered Group
Psychotherapy (MCGP) versus a standardized Supportive Group Psychotherapy (SGP) in reducing
psychological distress (depression and anxiety), end-of-life despair (hopelessness, desire
for hastened death, and suicidal ideation), and improving spiritual well-being and overall
quality of life in a sample patients with advanced cancer.

To assess the relative impact of Meaning-Centered Group Psychotherapy on different aspects
of spiritual well-being (e.g., a sense of meaning and purpose versus spirituality linked to
religious faith).

To examine clinical and demographic variables that may correspond to differential responses
to Meaning-Centered Group Psychotherapy (e.g., potential mediating and moderating influences
such as illness severity, religion and religiosity, level of education, race/ethnicity,
level of pre-intervention social support, presence of pain and physical symptom burden).

Inclusion Criteria:

- > or = to 21 years of age.

- All patients with stage IV solid tumor cancers; or Stage III solid tumor
cancers(excluding breast and prostate cancer) who are receiving ambulatory care at
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

- Able to communicate with an English speaking therapist

- Able to comprehend English to complete study assessments

Exclusion Criteria:

- Significant psychiatric disturbance sufficient, in the investigator's judgment, to
preclude participation in a group-format intervention (i.e., acute psychiatric
symptoms which require individual treatment).

- Presence of cognitive impairment disorder (i.e., delirium or dementia) sufficient, in
the investigator's judgment, to preclude meaningful informed consent and/or data
collection. The Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) will be used as a cognitive
screening tool. Patients with MMSE scores below 20 will be excluded.

- Karnofsky Performance Rating Scale score below 50 or physical limitations or illness
severity sufficient to preclude participation in outpatient group psychotherapy.

Type of Study:


Study Design:

Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Open Label, Primary Purpose: Supportive Care

Outcome Measure:

The primary outcomes to be measured include measures of spiritual well-being (meaning) and psychological distress (depression, hopelessness, optimism quality of life).

Outcome Time Frame:

16 weeks

Safety Issue:


Principal Investigator

William Breitbart, MD

Investigator Role:

Principal Investigator

Investigator Affiliation:

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center


United States: Institutional Review Board

Study ID:




Start Date:

June 2007

Completion Date:

June 2013

Related Keywords:

  • Palliative Care
  • Palliative Care
  • Terminally Ill
  • Group Therapy
  • 07-094



Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center 1275 York Avenue New York, New York  10021