Background The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of an intervention combining Life Review Therapy (LRT) and Memory Specificity Training (MST) (LRT-MST) to improve ego-integrity and despair among cancer patients in palliative care. Methods In this multicentre randomized controlled trial, cancer patients in palliative care were randomized to the intervention group (LRT-MST; n = 55) or waiting-list control group (n = 52). LRT-MST is a 4-session home-based psychological intervention that aims to retrieve specific positive memories, to re-evaluate life events and to reconstruct the story of a patient’s life, including the diagnosis of incurable cancer. Outcome measures were ego-integrity and despair (NEIS), psychological distress, anxiety and depression (HADS), quality of life (EORTC QLQ-C15-PAL), and specificity of the autobiographical memory (AMT). NEIS, HADS and EORTC QLQ-C15-PAL were assessed at baseline (T0), 1 month later (post-treatment; T1), and at 1 month follow-up (T2). AMT was assessed at T0 and T1. Linear mixed models (intention to treat) were used to assess group differences in changes over time. Independent samples t-tests were used to assess group differences at T0, T1, and T2, and effect sizes (ES) were calculated at T1 and T2. Results The course of ego-integrity (not despair) improved significantly over time (p = .007) in the intervention group compared to the waiting-list control group, with moderate, but insignificant, effect sizes at T1 (ES = .42) and T2 (ES = .48). Compliance rate was 69% and total dropout rate was 28%, both primarily related to disease progression and death. Conclusions LRT-MST seems effective among cancer patients in palliative care to improve the course of ego-integrity.
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© 2018 Kleijn et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.