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Clinical Trial Summary


- A person s mental state, personal relationships, or spiritual well-being often change in many ways during or after cancer. Some of these changes can have a life-changing positive side, called psycho-socio-spiritual or PSS Healing. For example, a person may feel mentally stronger or more whole than before their cancer.

- Because researchers are interested in enhancing such experiences in other cancer patients, there is interest in developing a way to measure PSS Healing that would be helpful in understanding this phenomenon.


- To determine and categorize the characteristics of PSS Healing, which could lead to development of a psychometric instrument to measure it.


- Adults who have cancer or have had cancer that was diagnosed after the age of 18 and who have had at least one strong positive emotional or mental change in relation to the cancer (e.g., relationships with others, spiritual well-being or faith, thoughts about the meaning of life, reactions to stress).


- The study design does not involve any treatment or counseling.

- Participants will be interviewed by a research team member. The one-time interview will last up to 2.25 hours and will be audiotaped and transcribed.

- Interviews will consist of an in-depth portion to assess the positive changes in relation to the illness. Participants will then be asked to identify from a list of short descriptions the ones that best reflect their personal experience of PSS Healing.

- Transcribed information will be coded and categorized according to standard research techniques.

Clinical Trial Description

We identify healing in the context of chronic or life-threatening illness as a patient-reported outcome consisting of growth or benefit in psychological, social and/or spiritual dimensions representing improvement well above the patient s pre-morbidity baseline. This positive outcome often occurs despite substantial suffering during the illness, even in terminal cases (Kearney 2000).

In previous phenomenological studies, qualitative descriptions of healing and the processes by which it develops have not been structured in categories suitable for the development of a fully validated and standardized psychometric instrument. Also, the relationship of healing to psychometrically measurable constructs such as posttraumatic growth, resilience, coping, and acceptance is not clear.

Objective: This program is to provide (1) a qualitative model of healing-related processes, (2) phenomenological categories of healing suitable for a psychometric instrument development, (3) the relationship of healing to other relevant constructs such as trauma, coping, and adult development, and (4) questionnaire items for healing assessment and (5) software tools that greatly increase the qualitative analysis speed and rigor of phenomenological category building.

Study populations: Two populations of subjects who have experienced a life-threatening disease or serious chronic illness (cancer or cardiac disease) will be recruited from three sites. The first population (50 subjects) are individuals with exemplary healing experiences (life-transforming positive outcomes connected to illness along psychological, social and/or spiritual dimensions) or in the early stages of healing-related processes. In-depth interview data from these subjects will empirically help identify endpoint markers and process pathways of profound healing. The second population (400 subjects) consists of current or past participants in structured healing or medical rehabilitation programs. In a written interview, these participants will qualitatively evaluate questionnaire items for identifying readiness for and progress toward healing using their first-hand, illness-related experience.

Design: This protocol has a qualitative, phenomenological, natural history design similar to identifying features of a medical syndrome or psychological disorder. It has two formats of data collection: in-depth individual interviews of the exemplary healing population, and self-administered written interviews for current participants in formal healing or rehabilitation programs. In-depth interview sessions have 2 1/4-hour duration with three components: a 50-minute, in depth phenomenological interview, a 30-minute short-statement interview (how subjects view healing-related short questionnaire statements), and a 25-minute related-constructs interview (how their positive outcomes, may be related to personality). Interview and short-statement analyses consist of standard qualitative methodologies including transcription, memo-writing, coding, categorization, and modeling.

Outcome measures: None (non-interventional) ;

Study Design

Related Conditions & MeSH terms

NCT number NCT01077414
Study type Observational
Source National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)
Status Completed
Start date September 4, 2009
Completion date November 2, 2016

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