UCLA Study Shows Breast Cancer Patients Can Reduce Depression by Chronicling Their Experiences Online

Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles have conducted a study which shows that breast cancer patients who create a personal website chronicling their experience tend to be less likely to be depressed. Women who wrote about their experiences online were more likely to have a positive outlook and to have greater appreciation for life.

In Project Connect Online (PCO), a randomized trial conducted with 88 breast cancer patients between the ages of 28 and 76, participants were assigned either to a three-hour workshop led by Stanton and her colleagues in which the women created personal websites or to a control group that did not create websites. The women assigned to the PCO group found that their websites were particularly valuable for telling the stories of their cancer experiences, expressing emotions and reducing how much information they had to repeat for family and friends. Visitors to the websites found them useful for providing updates on the authors’ health and for helping visitors feel emotionally close to the authors.

The women in the PCO group demonstrated statistically significant improvement in depressive symptoms, positive mood and life appreciation, the researchers found.

stantonThe lead author of the study is Annette Stanton, a professor of psychology and of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences. “We are encouraged by these positive findings,” Professor Stanton said, “especially for cancer survivors with the most need — those in active medical treatment or with more advanced disease.”

The article was published on the website of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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