Ovarian Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Study Finds Disney Films Offer Surprising Benefits for Women Treated for Gynecologic Cancer

By: Jocelyn Solis-Moreira, MS
Posted: Monday, June 15, 2020

The wonderful world of Disney could be coming to a cancer center near you. A study published in JAMA Network Open found that patients who watched certain Disney movies during chemotherapy for gynecologic cancers experienced quality-of-life benefits. Robin Ristl, PhD, of the Medical University of Vienna, and colleagues suggested classic Disney movies may be “more about accepting change than about heroically overcoming all odds,” which could be a positive outlet for dealing with cancer-related emotions and fatigue.

The study enrolled 56 women with gynecologic cancers, including ovarian (n = 39), endometrial (n = 7), and cervical or vulvar (n = 4). All patients were scheduled to undergo six cycles of chemotherapy with either carboplatin and paclitaxel or carboplatin and pegylated liposomal doxorubicin. Patients were randomly assigned to watch six of eight Disney movies made between 1950 and 1989 (Cinderella, Lady and the Tramp, The Sword in the Stone, Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Aristocats, Robin Hood, and The Little Mermaid) or nothing at all during chemotherapy. To measure changes in quality of life, patients filled out a survey before and after chemotherapy.

Emotional functioning scores after the last cycle of chemotherapy were higher in the Disney group versus the control group (86.9 vs. 66.3; P = .02). Patients watching Disney movies reported less worry, nervousness, irritability, and depressive symptoms. In addition, less encroachment in social activities and family life was observed in the Disney group compared with the control group (86.1 vs. 63.6; P = .01). In terms of lethargy, patients reported feeling less fatigue overall (85.5 vs. 66.4; P = .01).

“Watching Disney movies during chemotherapy is associated with improved emotional functioning, social functioning, and fatigue status in patients with gynecologic cancer,” concluded the authors. However, they noted, the study was limited in determining whether the improvement in quality of life was a short- or long-term effect.

Disclosure: The study authors’ disclosure information can be found at jamanetwork.com.

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