Group Logotherapy Decreased Existential Loneliness and Anxiety About Death in Patients With Advanced Cancer

By Dustin Samples - February 8, 2023

As anyone who has cared for someone with cancer knows, the effects of diagnosis and treatment are devastating. Even in cases where the cancer is curable, 3-10% of those diagnosed will experience PTSD related to the diagnosis, and 10-20% will experience subsyndromal PTSD.

The psychological effects are myriad and dire for those who can’t be cured. Existential loneliness, anxiety/preoccupation with death, feelings of inadequacy or being a victim, financial stress, fear about what will happen to their families, and more will affect a person with an advanced cancer diagnosis to varying degrees.

Logotherapy, the idea that finding meaning (logos) in one’s life can help to overcome suffering, has previously been demonstrated to relieve certain psychological symptoms in patients with cancer. In a new study published in Cancer Nursing, researchers from the University of Tabriz in Tabriz, Iran, and Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada, evaluated the outcomes of group logotherapy on 2 specific psychological distresses in people with advanced cancer: existential loneliness and anxiety about death. This is the first study to evaluate logotherapy on these domains in this population.

The 2 hospitals recruited 63 patients with advanced cancer and assigned them to a control group (n=32) or experimental group (n=31) in which participants received 2-hour group logotherapy sessions once a week for 10 weeks. Study participants completed Templer’s Death Anxiety Scale and the Existential Loneliness Questionnaire pre- and post-treatment.

Results showed that “patients in the logotherapy group reported a significant decrease in anxiety about death and existential loneliness after (vs before) the treatment.” Participants in the control group showed no such changes in either anxiety about death or existential loneliness.

These results led the researchers to conclude that group logotherapy has clinical value in this patient population. “The study emphasizes that group logotherapy can be considered in oncology care programs by healthcare professionals and in educational curriculums and is suggested for use among caregivers and patients with advanced cancer,” they concluded.


Effect of Group Logotherapy on Anxiety About Death and Existential Loneliness in Patients With Advanced Cancer: A Randomized Controlled Trial.