Meaning-Centered Psychotherapy for Cancer Caregivers: A pilot trial among caregivers of patients with glioblastoma multiforme

Transl Behav Med. 2022 Aug 17;12(8):841-852. doi: 10.1093/tbm/ibac043.


Caregivers of patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) are at significant risk for existential distress. Such distress negatively impacts caregivers' quality of life and capacity to serve in their role as healthcare proxies, and ultimately, contributes to poor bereavement outcomes. Our team developed Meaning-Centered Psychotherapy for Cancer Caregivers (MCP-C), the first targeted psychosocial intervention that directly addresses existential distress in caregivers. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effects of MCP-C among caregivers of patients with GBM via a mixed-method pilot trial. Caregivers were randomized to seven sessions of MCP-C or Enhanced Usual Care (EUC), which included distress screening and the provision of targeted referrals and completed quantitative assessments at baseline (T1), after completion of MCP-C (T2), and at 2-month follow-up (T3). A subset of participants engaged in semistructured interviews at T2. Of 60 caregivers randomized, 55 were evaluable for preliminary efficacy analysis. Constrained linear mixed models indicated the MCP-C arm had statistically significant improvement relative to the EUC arm in the primary outcome of personal meaning and multiple secondary outcomes, including benefit finding, depressive symptomatology, and spiritual wellbeing. MCP-C demonstrated preliminary efficacy in facilitating caregivers' capacity to experience a sense of meaning and purpose despite the challenges and suffering associated with providing care to patients with GBM. Future studies are needed among more diverse samples of caregivers and should include the opportunity for concurrent patient enrollment to allow for a reciprocal and augmented experience of meaning among patient-caregiver dyads.

Keywords: Cancer caregivers; Glioblastoma multiforme; Meaning-Centered Psychotherapy; Meaning-Centered Psychotherapy for Cancer Caregivers; Psychosocial interventions.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Caregivers* / psychology
  • Glioblastoma* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Pilot Projects
  • Psychotherapy / methods
  • Quality of Life