Long-term efficacy of meaning-centered group psychotherapy for cancer survivors: 2-Year follow-up results of a randomized controlled trial

Karen Holtmaat, Nadia van der Spek, Birgit Lissenberg-Witte, William Breitbart, Pim Cuijpers, Irma Verdonck-de Leeuw*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: Meaning-centered group psychotherapy for cancer survivors (MCGP-CS) is an effective intervention to improve personal meaning, psychological well-being, and depressive symptoms until 6 months after the intervention. In this study, the long-term effects of MCGP-CS (i.e., at 1- and 2-year follow-up) on meaning, psychological well-being and posttraumatic growth were assessed, in comparison to supportive group psychotherapy (SGP) and care as usual (CAU). Methods: Cancer survivors (n = 170) were randomized into MCGP-CS, SGP, or CAU. Assessments were scheduled at baseline, 1 week, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years postintervention. Outcome measures were the Personal Meaning Profile, Ryff's Scales of Psychological Well-Being (SPWB), the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory, and their subscales. Linear mixed models (LMM) were used and results were both reported on an intention-to-treat (ITT) basis, as well as for intervention completers only. Results: LMM and post hoc analyses with Bonferroni correction revealed that MCGP-CS participants reported more improvement on positive relations (subscale of SPWB) than CAU participants of 2-year postintervention (ITT analysis, Cohen's d =.82). Completers also reported more personal growth (subscale of SPWB) after MCGP-CS than after SGP 1-year postintervention (Cohen's d =.94). No long-term effects were found on the other outcome measures. Conclusions: In the 2 years after MCGP-CS, the short-term significant effects on personal meaning and most positive effects related to psychological well-being faded. However, MCGP-CS had a long-term positive effect on positive relations with others and on survivors' sense of personal growth. Trial registration: Netherlands Trial Register: NTR3571.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)711-718
Number of pages8
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020

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