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Effect of creative writing on mood in patients with cancer
  1. Junjia Zhu1,
  2. Muhammad Hussain2,3,
  3. Aditya Joshi4,
  4. Cristina I Truica2,
  5. Darya Nesterova5,
  6. Jolene Collins2,
  7. Erika F H Saunders4,
  8. Michael Hayes2,4,
  9. Joseph J Drabick2 and
  10. Monika Joshi2
  1. 1 Public Health Sciences, Penn State Cancer Institute, Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA
  2. 2 Medicine, Penn State Cancer Institute, Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA
  3. 3 New York Oncology Hematology PC, Albany, New York, USA
  4. 4 Department of Psychiatry, Penn State, Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA
  5. 5 Neurosurgery, Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Monika Joshi, Medicine, Penn State Cancer Institute, Hershey, PA 17033, USA; mjoshi{at}pennstatehealth.psu.edu

Abstract

Objective To determine the feasibility of conducting creative writing workshops (CWW) for patients with cancer to promote improvement in mood.

Method We piloted a prospective study to determine the feasibility of conducting CWW over a 4-week period. Patients were randomised 2:1 to either an intervention arm (IA) or to standard of care (SOC). Patients in the IA attended four 2-hour long weekly CWW × 4 weeks, whereas those receiving SOC did not participate in the CWW. We used a validated emotion thermometer scale (ETS) to assess changes in patient’s mental health before and after intervention. Patients with metastatic or unresectable cancer were included.

Primary endpoint (1) Feasibility and (2) mood scores before and after CWW using ETS.

Results A total of 16 patients were enrolled: 11 in the IA vs 5 in SOC. Seven out of 11 (63%) patients enrolled in the IA attended at least 75% of classes. Patients in the IA showed a trend towards mood improvement relative to the SOC when comparing initial and final ETS scores. Within the IA group significantly lower postclass total ETS scores were observed relative to preclass ETS scores. Also, a significant decreasing trend over time was observed in the preclass total ETS scores for participants in the IA group.

Conclusions It is feasible for patients with cancer to attend CWW. Our results also show a positive effect on mood in the CWW arm. Further prospective clinical studies are needed to evaluate the effect of this intervention in patients with cancer.

  • creative writing
  • cancer patients
  • cancer and mental health
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Footnotes

  • Collaborators Melissa Greene is a professional writer for ‘Write from the Heart’ series, who was hired by Penn State Cancer Institute to conduct creative writing workshops for patients with cancer.

  • Contributors JZ: participated in study design, protocol writing, statistical analyses, manuscript writing and review. MHu: participated in study design, accrual of patients, conduct of the study, data collection and analyses, manuscript review. AJ: participated in study design, protocol writing, statistical analyses, manuscript writing. CIT, JJD: participated in study design, protocol development, accrual of patients, data analyses, manuscript review. JC, DN, MHa: participated in data analyses, manuscript review. EFHS: participated in study design, data analyses, manuscript review. MJ: principal investigator; participated in concept development, study design, protocol development, accrual of patients, conduct of study, data collection and analyses, manuscript writing and review.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests MJ participated in advisory board for prostate cancer—Bayer, Sanofi; research funds for clinical trials—Pfizer, AstraZeneca.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

  • Ethics approval The study protocol was approved by the Institutional Review Board, study number PSCI 16–041; STUDY00006541.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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