Supportive Care

Bibliotherapy: Appraisal of Evidence for Patients Diagnosed With Cancer

Ryan Malibiran

Joseph D. Tariman

Kim Amer

bibliotherapy, anxiety, cancer, coping, quality of life, breast cancer
CJON 2018, 22(4), 377-380. DOI: 10.1188/18.CJON.377-380

An appraisal of the evidence on the efficacy of bibliotherapy on anxiety, distress, and coping in patients with cancer is lacking in the literature. Bibliotherapy is a self-help intervention using a variety of tools, such as self-help workbooks, pamphlets, novels, and audiobooks, to improve mental health. This review identified nine original research articles that examined bibliotherapy as an intervention to alleviate the psychological issues associated with a cancer diagnosis. Data synthesis from these studies provides preliminary evidence that bibliotherapy is an acceptable and beneficial adjunct therapy for patients with cancer experiencing anxiety, depression, and ineffective coping.


  • Preliminary evidence shows that patients with cancer can benefit from bibliotherapy.
  • Stress reduction, relief of anxiety and depression, and effective coping are among the most frequently patient-reported outcomes of bibliotherapy.
  • Consistent use of the same instruments to measure patient-reported outcomes and randomized, controlled trials are warranted to draw solid conclusions and establish the causal link between bibliotherapy and patient-reported outcomes
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