New research to support those with terminal illness

Grant for team from the Universities of Chester and Edinburgh.

A team at the University of Chester and the University of Edinburgh has been awarded a £34,000 grant for research into therapy for cancer patients in palliative care services. The funding, awarded by Macmillan Cancer Support, will allow for acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) sessions to be delivered to people who have been told their cancer cannot be cured.

The intervention being developed as part of this study is called BEACHeS, standing for Brief Engagement and Acceptance Coaching in Community and Hospice Settings. Previous research led by the University of Chester has already shown that ACT may help cancer survivors to become more resilient to psychological distress, and this pilot work aims to extend that research to patients receiving palliative care.

The pilot study was due to begin in March and will run for a year. The patients who take part will have one-to-one therapy sessions with a psychologist over a six-week period, and the researchers will test whether this short intervention has improved their psychological wellbeing. The research team hope that this will lead to a larger programme of work researching the benefits of ACT for people with cancer and other life-limiting conditions.

Nick Hulbert-Williams [pictured, with patient representative Sue Millington), Professor of Behavioural Medicine at the University of Chester, who is leading the BEACHeS Research Study said: ‘Receiving a cancer diagnosis is a huge event in anyone’s life. To then find out that the illness cannot be cured can be psychologically devastating for some people. We currently have very little knowledge about how different kinds of psychological therapy can help people at this difficult time, but I know from my own work as a coaching psychologist providing support to this group that ACT seems to bring benefit. This will be one of the first studies that begins to empirically explore the benefits of ACT for this group of patients.’ 

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