Using a positive self-talk intervention to enhance coping skills in breast cancer survivors: lessons from a community based group delivery model

R. Hamilton, B. Miedema, L. MacIntyre, J. Easley



Cancer survivorship is a distinct phase of the cancer continuum, and it can have myriad associated stresses and challenges. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a positive self-talk (PST) intervention in enhancing the coping skills and improving the psychological well-being of breast cancer survivors.


Participants (n = 38) were recruited from 5 support groups in a small eastern Canadian province. Support groups were randomly assigned to either a control (n = 18) or an intervention (n = 20) condition. Intervention participants were pre-tested, received a 2-hour PST in-person group workshop and a 10-minute “booster” session by telephone, and completed post-test questionnaires 1 month later.


Intervention participants reviewed the workshop favourably. Nearly all participants used the intervention in everyday life, were able to accurately describe how PST works, and found that PST had a considerable impact on their ability to cope with cancer and related sequelae. However, the descriptive findings from the workshop evaluation did not translate into significant differences between the intervention and control groups on the psychometric measures.


The PST intervention, delivered in a community group model, was positively received and effective in teaching participants about PST and how PST can be used to enhance coping skills for breast cancer patients. However, the intervention did not promote significantly greater levels of change in anxiety, depression, mood disturbance, or coping ability for intervention participants. The unique challenges of community-level psychological intervention are explored.

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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)