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Psychooncology. 2017 Dec;26(12):2101-2108. doi: 10.1002/pon.4312. Epub 2016 Dec 27.

A randomized pilot trial of a positive affect skill intervention (lessons in linking affect and coping) for women with metastatic breast cancer.

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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA.
University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Stanford Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.
Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC, USA.



We conducted a randomized pilot trial to examine the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of a 5 week positive affect skills intervention (LILAC: lessons in linking affect and coping) for women with metastatic breast cancer. Additionally, we examined whether online delivery of the intervention would offer comparable benefits as in-person delivery.


Women with metastatic breast cancer (N = 39) were randomized to an in-person intervention, online intervention, or in-person attention-matched control. Psychological well-being (depression [Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale], positive and negative affect [Differential Emotions Scale], cancer-specific quality of life [Multidimensional Quality of Life Scale-Cancer Version]), and positive coping (mindfulness, positive-affect skill use, and self-compassion [Self-Compassion Scale: Short-Form]) were assessed at baseline, 1 week post-intervention, and 1 month post-intervention follow-up.


The LILAC intervention showed good feasibility, acceptability, and retention. Although the study was not adequately powered to detect between-group differences in change on preliminary efficacy outcomes, within-group comparisons revealed that LILAC participants (in-person and online combined) showed reductions in depression and negative affect by the 1 month follow-up (d = -0.81). Notably, LILAC participants fell below the clinical threshold for depression (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale = 16) by the 1 month follow-up (t[17] = -2.22, P = .04, d = -0.52), whereas control participants did not differ from threshold (t[9] = 0.45, P = .66, d = 0.14).


The LILAC intervention, regardless of delivery method, shows feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy for promoting psychological well-being in women with metastatic breast cancer. This research provides support for a larger randomized trial to test more definitively the potential benefits of LILAC. A strength of the LILAC intervention includes its innovative focus on positive affect. The efficacy of the online delivery suggests the potential for widespread Internet dissemination.


cancer; metastatic breast cancer; oncology; online; positive Affect; well-being

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