Abstract: Research evaluating the issue whether psychological factors influence the course of cancer has produced inconsistent results. In breast cancer, which has the largest body of research to it, studieshave shown positive and negative or missing relations between emotional distress and survival. The inconsistency of results may in part be explained by methodological flaws of most studies. To guide the evaluation of the quality of investigations, methodological prerequisites are presented covering the following…issues: prospective design, correct definition of the endpoint under study, homogeneous sample, adjusting for biomedical prognostic factors, and adequate statistical analysis. Furthermore, possible mechanisms mediating the link between psychological factors and cancer progression are highlighted. When interpreting results, a clear distinction between causal risk factors and prognostic markers predicting, but not influencing, the course of cancer is crucial. This issue can only be solved on the basis of experimental intervention studies evaluating the impact of the modification of psychological factors on the course of the disease. At present, the results of intervention studies do not favour the interpretation of psychological factors influencing the course of cancer.
Keywords: breast cancer, lung cancer, survival, prognostic factors, coping
Abstract: Reviewing available publications, the present article deals with thanatopsychology, the scientific discipline of death and dying, from a medical psychological perspective. It presents and discusses research findings, assessment instruments, and issues of application. A focus is on attitudinal dimensions towards dying and death with special reference to assessment techniques. Further topics are communicating with patients about the issue, the process of dying, the psycho-social care of dying adults, the stress imposed on…the care givers, mourning and grief related clinical interventions, and, finally, issues of medical education. Further research is needed to broaden the empirical basis of the discipline.
Keywords: attitudes toward dying and death, bereavement, care of the dying, dying process, grief and mourning, medical psychology, thanatopsychology
Abstract: Coping with a severe chronic disease is embedded in the patient's everyday life and may af-fect many areas of everyday functioning. This single-case-study depicts coping processes in the natural environment of the patients. Using a standardised diary over a period of ninety days, stressors (concerning physical well-being, intimate social relations, daily activities, fi-nance, doctor-patient-relationship), coping strategies, and emotional well-being were as-sessed on a daily basis. We analysed thirteen cases of female patients…with different tumours with regard to those stressors and coping strategies that have been found in previous studies on a group level. Moreover, three single cases were examined in more detail. Each person showed a specific profile of daily stressors and coping strategies. Not all of the previously known stressors and coping modes turned out to be relevant for these patients. There are dif-ferent consequences of the individual strategies on well-being and function, also depending on the stage of the illness. Future research should examine the day-to-day coping process in more detail.
Keywords: coping, cancer, every day life, single-case-study
Abstract: The study was conducted to answer the following questions: (1) Does computer-based visual restitution training improve the visual field size in patients with prechiasmatic lesions (age of lesion >1 year)? (2) Does this training, which focuses on simple light perception, also improve other aspects of vision such as acuity, form or color perception? The patients were trained for a six-month period with daily PC-based visual training at home for one hour. While the experimental group (n…= 10) was trained with a stimulus detection task in the border region located between defective and intact areas, the age-matched control group (n = 9) received pure fixation-training. Results: In the experimental group we found an increase from 203.2 to 312.8 detected stimuli; in the control group from 197.7 to 227.8. On average, the size of the region in which light stimuli could be detected was increased by twenty percent (p < 0.05). Furthermore, acuity values were also significantly increased (p < 0.05) and contrast sensitivity was slightly increased; form and color recognition did not significantly change.