"Health in the mirror": An unconventional approach to unmet psychological needs in oncology

VE Di Mattei, L Carnelli, P Taranto, M Bernardi, C Brombin, F Cugnata, A Noviello, M Currin, G Mangili, E Rabaiotti, L Sarno, M Candiani

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Background: The introduction of aesthetic care programs for cancer patients inside hospitals could help patients cope with the side effects of both disease and treatment. The specific objective of this study is to evaluate whether a complementary and supportive program, called "Health in the Mirror," has a positive effect on participants by analyzing certain psychological variables. Methods: Eighty-eight female cancer patients were included in this analysis. The support program is composed of three group aesthetic interventions that address both physical and psychological aspects that accompany cancer and its treatment. Patients were asked to complete a battery of tests in order to measure the impact of the program on certain psychological variables including anxiety, depression, body image, self-esteem, and quality of life. Outcome variables were measured at three different time-points: prior to participation, on the last day of the program, and after a 3-month follow-up. Results: Participating in the psychosocial support program "Health in the Mirror" determines an improvement in the psychological variables measured. Results revealed a significant reduction in depressive symptoms, anxiety and body image issues, as well as an improvement in self-esteem levels; this suggests that participating in this program could facilitate better adjustment to disease and treatment. Discussion: This study legitimizes the importance of implementing supportive and complementary therapies together with conventional therapies; the therapeutic approach to cancer cannot be restricted solely to medical care, but it must consider the patient as a whole person with needs that are not only physical or medical, but also psychological, social, and existential. © 2017 Di Mattei, Carnelli, Taranto, Bernardi, Brombin, Cugnata, Noviello, Currin, Mangili, Rabaiotti, Sarno and Candiani.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1633
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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