Disney Movies May Improve Quality of Life in Women with Gynecologic Cancer on Chemotherapy

Women with gynecologic cancers may find themselves in a whole new world of improved quality of life by tuning into Disney movies, according to a study.

“Cancer and its treatment with chemotherapy can be physically and psychologically demanding for patients. Notably, among the major worries of women with gynecologic cancer are the adverse effects of chemotherapy. Even more important, maintaining a positive attitude during treatment was a value shared by more than 90% of these patients, regardless of their age,” the researchers noted. “This is in accordance with Walt Disney, who stated in 1958 that ‘the tonic effect of fun and play has long been recognized as an antidote to the stresses, worries, labors, and responsibilities of our workaday life.’”

Previous studies have observed the effect of music on quality of life, including improving anxiety and fatigue in cancer patients.

“Disney movies provide not only the music component with their famous songs, but also provide a distraction for more than 1 hour,” the study authors added.

Their randomized clinical trial took place between December 2017 and December 2018 at a cancer referral center in Vienna, Austria, and recruitment of women with gynecologic cancers was conducted through July 2018. Women aged older than 18 years with six planned chemotherapy cycles (either carboplatin and paclitaxel or carboplatin and pegylated liposomal doxorubicin) were eligible for inclusion. Women without knowledge of the German language and who were receiving other chemotherapy regimens were excluded. Women were either shown or not shown Disney movies during six chemotherapy cycles, and they filled out standardized European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) questionnaires before and after each cycle. The main outcomes were change of quality of life, defined per the EORTC Core-30 (version 3) questionnaire, and fatigue, defined per the EORTC Quality of Life Questionnaire Fatigue.

Disney Movies Improve Anxiety and Fatigue

Of 56 women who entered the study, 50 completed it: 25 in the Disney movie group (mean age, 59 years) and 25 in the control group (mean age, 62 years). Over the six cycles of chemotherapy, women in the Disney movie group, compared to those in the control group, felt less tense and worried less, demonstrated by their scores on emotional functioning (mean score, 86.9 vs. 66.3). The social functioning questions showed a correlation between watching Disney movies and less encroachment on patients’ family life and social activities compared to the control group (mean score, 86.1 vs. 63.6). The intervention group had fewer fatigue symptoms than the control group (mean score, 85.5 vs. 66.4). There was no correlation observed between perceived global health status and watching Disney movies.

The outcomes of the study were published in JAMA Network Open.

“These findings suggest that watching Disney movies during chemotherapy is associated with improved emotional functioning, social functioning, and fatigue status in patients with gynecologic cancer. We consider the results of this study more than promising and suggest that affected patients can be counseled on the basis of the data,” the authors concluded.