Personality changes and the role of counseling in the rehabilitation of patients with laryngeal cancer

July 31, 2008
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Abstract

We conducted a study of 65 adults who had undergone laryngectomy for the treatment of laryngeal cancer. Our goal was to identify any abnormal personality traits in these patients and to assess the effect that psychological counseling might have on correcting these abnormalities and thereby improving postoperative voice rehabilitation. A Personality Trait Inventory (PTI) administered to all patients preoperatively identified 47 patients who had abnormal scores for at least three personality traits. These 47 patients were sent for preoperative psychological counseling, and 3 months following surgery, they underwent a follow-up PTI. At the follow-up assessment, 40 of these patients—32 men and 8 women—still registered abnormal scores for at least three traits. Half of the men and half of the women were randomized to receive 12 sessions of individualized psychological counseling over 6 months in addition to standard speech therapy (group I); the other patients received speech therapy only (group II). A follow-up PTI was administered at the completion of psychological counseling and/or speech therapy (postoperative month 9). Statistical analysis of the data was performed with the paired-samples test. Intragroup analysis of the follow-up PTI results revealed that both groups experienced a significant improvement in activity scores (p < 0.001) compared with their previous PTI results and that group I had significantly better scores for two other PTI traits—cyclothymia (mood swings) and depressive tendency (p < 0.05); neither group showed a significant improvement in dominance scores. Intergroup comparisons revealed that group I's activity and depressive tendency scores were significantly better than those of group II; there was no significant difference between the two groups in cyclothymia and dominance scores. Finally, comparison of results by sex, regardless of group, revealed that men had a significantly higher score for dominance and women had significantly higher scores for depressive tendency, emotional instability, introversion, and social desirability. We conclude that a preoperative personality analysis should be carried out in all patients scheduled for laryngectomy to identify those with personality problems that might benefit from psychological counseling. Correction of these problems should help in the physical, mental, vocational, and social rehabilitation of these patients.

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