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Quality of Life Research impact stories

01 May 2015

The Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute (CCSRI) funds research in 3 areas – prevention, biomedical and clinical, and quality of life.

Quality of Life Research projects explore many issues – including psychosocial, survivorship, supportive care and end-of-life – that may have a significant impact on patients, survivors and caregivers. The following are some of the high-impact Quality of Life Research findings of 2014. Learn more about CCSRI’s research investments in our 2014 Research Impact Report.

We thank our donors who fund this important research for their generosity.

Dr Tavis Campbell, University of Calgary

Tavis Campbell

Fighting insomnia in cancer patients

People with cancer can experience significant psychological effects that interfere with their recovery and quality of life. One of these is insomnia, which affects about one-quarter of people during and after treatment.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the recommended non-drug therapy for insomnia, but another method – mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) – has been suggested to have specific benefits for cancer patients who are experiencing disturbed sleep related to anxiety.

Dr Tavis Campbell and his team conducted a trial to compare these 2 therapies, and in work published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, they found that patients using MBSR showed similar improvements in some sleep parameters, such as total sleep time and reduction of stress, compared to CBT. However, CBT was found to work more quickly and have lasting effects. These findings confirm that CBT is still the best non-drug choice for the treatment of insomnia in cancer patients.

Dr Camilla Zimmermann, University Health Network, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre

Dr Camilla Zimmermann

Improving quality of life for cancer patients through early palliative care

Patients with advanced cancer can work with their health team and caregivers to create a plan of care that will maximize their quality of life. Dr Camilla Zimmermann and her team have been leading a clinical trial to study the impact of early palliative care for patients with advanced cancer.

In a paper published in The Lancet, Dr Zimmermann reported that participants who had an outpatient palliative care team involved in their care earlier experienced a better quality of life, reduced symptom severity and greater satisfaction with care, versus those who received standard care. These findings could lead to changes in palliative care to improve the experience for cancer patients, their caregivers and families.