Radiotherapy for cancer is a stressful experience. Less attention has been given to identifying ways to help patients cope with radiotherapy than with other forms of cancer treatment. The proposed research will test the effects of sensory information and relaxation instruction on the emotional and problem-solving outcomes of coping in a sample of women undergoing radiotherapy for cervical or endometrial cancer. The intervening effects of body consciousness and symptom uncertainty also will be examined. To be able to develop the sensory information experimental messages, it will be necessary to describe the sensory experience by site of cancer and by phase of the treatment experience, the stressfulness of which varies in duration and intensity. Pretesting of instruments to increase their precision and eliminate confounds also will be accomplished. A sample of 30 women being treated for gynecologic cancer will be interviewed to establish the nature of the sensory exPerience. These subjects and 50 additional Patients receiving radiotherapy for other cancers will be used to pretest measures of coping outcome, symptom uncertainty, and body consciousness. A variety of methods will be used to assess the reliability and validity of the measures. A four factor experimental design with repeated measures on one factor will be used to test the effects of the interventions and of body consciousness on the outcomes of coping. A sample of 120 subjects will be randomly assigned to one of four experimental groups: information, instruction, information and instruction, or control. Interventions will be given during the first treatment week, the week before intracavitary treatment, and the last treatment week. Measures of coping outcome will be obtained during treatment week 3, intracavitary treatment, and post treatment weeks 2 and 4. A multiple regression approach to mixed design analysis of variance will be used to assess the effects of the interventions and of body consciousness on coping outcomes. Multiple regression procedures also will be used to determine if symptom uncertainty mediates the effects of sensory information. Finally logical extensions of the findings will be considered. The knowledge generated by the proposed research is expected to be useful in the nursing care of patients receiving radiotherapy for cancer.
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