Short term correlates of the Neuro Emotional Technique for cancer-related traumatic stress symptoms: A pilot case series
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As many as one quarter of all cancer survivors report traumatic stress symptoms from cancer-related experiences. While the majority of these patients do not meet the criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), there is growing evidence that subsyndromal symptoms can significantly contribute to functional impairment and negative health outcomes. Treatment options for the hallmark symptoms of traumatic stress—unpleasant, intrusive thoughts and avoidant behaviors—have not been well investigated for the cancer survivorship population.
Materials and methods
Seven female cancer survivors with traumatic stress symptoms from cancer-related experiences and no other major psychopathology, were enrolled to receive three sessions of Neuro-Emotional Technique (NET), a brief, targeted treatment that combines traditional desensitization principles with complementary modalities.
Psychological outcome measures (Impact of Event Scale (IES) and Subjective Units of Distress (SUD) and physiological measures (Heart Rate (HR) and Skin Conductance Level (SCL) demonstrated the following changes: 71% on IES, 88% SUD, 74% on HR, and 65% on SCL following the intervention. Statistically significant changes were observed for all four parameters, and effect size g for proportion improved were 0.50 each for IES, SUD, and HR, and 0.20 for SCL.
These cases suggest feasibility of the NET intervention for cancer-related traumatic stress and the potential for change in symptoms and physiological reactivity. Further investigation is needed to determine the specific and long-term effects of such an approach.
Implications for cancer survivors
Traumatic stress from cancer-related experiences might represent a constellation of symptoms that are amenable to brief, targeted interventions.