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Effect of creative writing on mood in patients with cancer


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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