British Journal of Clinical Psychology

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Volume 21 Issue 4 (November 1982), Pages 239-358

Behavioural analysis and control of psychosomatic symptoms of patients receiving intensive cancer treatment (pages 351-358)

During the course of cancer treatment behavioural symptoms such as gagging, coughing and vomiting often develop in the absence of apparent tissue damage. Moreover, symptoms whose onsets are clearly related to disease processes often continue after the disease has been eliminated. The reported research incorporated time‐series analyses of patients' behavioural symptoms and assessments of behavioural interventions involving the modification of nurse‐patient and family‐patient interactions. Results showed that: (1) inadvertent social reinforcement by hospital staff and family members fosters the development of behavioural symptoms; (2) personnel associated with treatment can become discriminative stimuli for social attention and thereby evoke symptom behaviours; and (3) by modifying the social reinforcement contingencies associated with treatment protocols, the frequency of psychosomatic symptoms can be reduced without changing the quality of medical/nursing care and social interaction.

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