The effect of bibliotherapy on anxiety in children with cancer (PP. 337-345)
Authors: Nicole M Schneider, Mary Peterson, Kathleen A Gathercoal, and Elizabeth Hamilton
Abstract: Children who have cancer and undergo various treatment procedures tend to have higher levels of emotional distress than their peers. Although traditional therapy can be effective in decreasing such distress, bibliotherapy has been found to be a convenient, inexpensive, effective psychological intervention. This study examined how reading a disease-relevant story, embedded with literature-supported coping strategies, influenced a child’s chronic illness-related distress. It was expected that children who read this book would experience a decrease in their perceived distress compared to their pre-intervention level distress. Twenty-one children ages 4 to 12 with various cancers, primarily hematological diagnoses, were recruited for this study and asked to rate their functioning across several domains utilizing the Child Outcome Rating Scale and a supplemental form targeting perceived physiological arousal. Participants were read an illustrated bibliotherapy intervention and subsequently asked to rate themselves utilizing the same scale both immediately after and several months later. Results indicate that perceptions of intrapersonal functioning improved and physiological arousal decreased immediately after the initial book reading. Significant improvements were found several months after the initial intervention when books were left with participants. This study demonstrates the value of a low-investment intervention.