TV Show Examines Role in Patient's Outlook During Cancer Treatment

June 14, 2011

Los Angeles Times

James Coyne, PhD, a professor of Psychology in Psychiatry and director of the Behavioral Oncology Program, is quoted in a Los Angeles Times article about a storyline on the TV show "Men of a Certain Age" in which a main character is being treated for colon cancer. The show raises questions about how crucial is it to have a positive outlook and emotional support in the face of cancer treatment. Coyne's research shows that there is no direct evidence that emotional support or a positive attitude directly affects cancer survival. He analyzed quality-of-life data from more than 1,000 patients with head and neck cancers and found no difference in survival rate based on the emotional state of the patient. (Overall, about two-thirds of the patients died over the eight years of the study.) "The hope that we can fight cancer by influencing emotional states appears to have been misplaced," Coyne says. Read More