Practice of traditional Chinese medicine for psycho-behavioral intervention improves quality of life in cancer patients: A systematic review and meta-analysis
BACKGROUND Many patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) experience depressive symptoms after treatment. This randomized controlled trial investigated the effects of a psychosocial nurse counseling and after intervention (NUCAI) versus usual care on the depressive and HNC-related physical symptoms of patients with HNC at 1 year after diagnosis. METHODS A total of 205 patients with HNC were randomly assigned to either intervention (n = 103) or usual care (n = 102), with stratification for gender and tumor stage. The NUCAI, which consisted of six bimonthly 45-minute counseling sessions, was a problem-focused intervention aimed at helping patients to manage the physical, psychological, and social consequences of HNC and its treatment. It was nurse-led and offered in combination with regular medical follow-up visits at the University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands. Depressive symptoms at 1 year after diagnosis were the primary outcome. Analyses were performed on an intention-to-treat basis for the total sample and for a predefined subgroup of patients with raised levels of depressive symptoms (Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression score ≥ 12; n = 91) at baseline using mixed-effect models. RESULTS One year after HNC treatment, levels of depressive symptoms were significantly lower in the intervention group than in the control group in the total sample and in the subgroup of patients with raised levels of depressive symptoms. CONCLUSION The NUCAI was feasible and effective in reducing depressive symptoms in patients with HNC 1 year after HNC treatment, and especially in patients with raised levels of depressive symptoms. The results of this study need to be confirmed in future studies before the NUCAI can be used in daily clinical practice.