|Brain Science David Schnarch Clinical Excellence Alan Sroufe Linda Bacon Mary Jo Barrett The Future of Psychotherapy Couples Anxiety Clinical Mastery Ethics Wendy Behary Men in Therapy Attachment Mind/Body Community of Excellence Great Attachment Debate Symposium 2012 Gender Issues Narcissistic Clients Couples Therapy Trauma Future of Psychotherapy William Doherty Mindfulness Diets Etienne Wenger Attachment Theory CE Comments Challenging Cases|
|Clinician's Digest Mar/Apr - Page 3|
Since then, however, Andersen has conducted her own studies, focusing on whether support groups affect patients' immune systems. In the November 2004 Journal of Clinical Oncology, she assessed the immune systems of 227 women with breast cancer, half of whom attended small-group sessions focusing on stress-reduction techniques, exercise, diet, and garnering support from doctors, family, and friends. She found that the T-cell counts of the women in the psychological intervention group had remained stable or increased, indicating a strengthening of their immune systems, whereas the T-cell counts of the women in the control group had decreased.
Her current study, published in the November issue of Cancer, follows the same women to assess their cancer recurrence and survival rates. She reports that 11 years later, 29 in the intervention group and 33 in the control group had experienced a recurrence of their disease, and 24 in the intervention group and 30 in the control group had died. Tying these statistics to her earlier research on immune systems, she concludes that support groups strengthen immunity—which results in fewer cases of cancer recurrence, longer times to recurrence, and longer survival.
Coyne calls Andersen's findings of intervention effects on the immune system "weak and inconsistent." Citing the small differences between her intervention and control groups' recurrences and deaths, he insists that the results are no better than what could be attributed to chance. Her study's sample size, he says, is too small to detect any survival effects. Another problem he sees is that Andersen's original study, which determined the sample, was designed to test a completely different hypothesis.
Coyne insists that psychological research that makes claims about extending lives ought to follow the same demanding protocol required of medical studies: a detailed declaration of the study's design and hypotheses ahead of time, with subsequent analyses restricted to that declaration. He adds that while he personally wishes Andersen's findings were true, as a scientist, he must raise legitimate research issues. "Like my grandmother used to say, ÔIf it isn't true, it ought to be,'" he says. "But no study claiming an effect of psychotherapy on cancer survival has ever been replicated, and there's no reason to believe that Andersen's study would be any different."
Sweet Revenge, Bitter Aftertaste
Colgate University psychologist Kevin Carlsmith challenges the notion that revenge is sweet. In a study published in December's Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, he and his team asked participants to play several rounds of a "cooperative" investment game with three anonymous players. In actuality, the other players were computer programs, which enabled the researchers to control the game.