Psychotherapy and cancer: new study and call for volunteers

Thursday, 27 July 2006

University of Adelaide researchers are investigating findings that early-stage cancer patients can benefit significantly from therapies focussing on the expression of emotion with the aim of evaluating the potential benefits of different treatments.

PhD student Vikki Knott is seeking volunteer cancer patients to take part in her study at the University of Adelaide in conjunction with Royal Adelaide Hospital, Repatriation General Hospital and Flinders Medical Centre.

"People in remission from cancer often experience high levels of emotional distress for a variety of reasons - maybe they are fearful the cancer will return or perhaps they are just feeling the effects of having what has been an intensive support base of doctors and therapists suddenly removed. There can be many different reasons," said Ms Knott.

"Some overseas research has shown that when these people have had the opportunity to express their emotions there can be very positive outcomes or benefits including improved quality of life, reduced distress, and improved defences to illnesses. Some studies have linked participation in therapy based on the expression of emotion with survival rates. The problem, however, with this research has been that the studies have used a combination of different therapies together so it has not been possible to assess which aspect of the therapeutic process is responsible for the benefits observed."

Ms Knott plans to carry out three trials involving separate 'emotion-focussed' therapies involving written disclosure about the experience of living with cancer, meditation and hypnosis. She will see how these treatments reduce distress, and will focus on the benefits of these treatments on the immune system.

Volunteers must be 18-74, have received a diagnosis of early-stage cancer within the past 12 months and there must be a minimum of two months since surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Interested cancer patients should contact Ms Knott on 8303 6785 or by email on for more information and further initial screening by telephone interview.


Contact Details

Ms Vikki Knott
PhD student
University of Adelaide
Business: (08) 8313 6785
Mobile: 0438 522 879

Media Team
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0814