Aims: Despite 40% of patients reporting distress after cancer diagnosis, there are many barriers to attending standard psychological therapies. This study evaluated the efficacy of an innovative interactive online self-help intervention for reducing distress among early stage cancer patients.
Methods: A randomised controlled trial is currently underway, comparing the intervention, iCanCope, with an internet-based attention-control. iCanCope is comprised of 6 modules, each containing psycho-education, worksheets, relaxation/mindfulness exercises, interactive quizzes and survivor stories. Attention-control participants receive the same information, but none of the ‘active’ intervention elements. Participants are individuals with recently diagnosed (<6 months) curative cancer. Measures of distress, coping, and quality of life are administered at baseline, post-intervention (week 7), then 3 months later.
Results: Recruitment commenced in March 2011, and will cease November 2012. Preliminary results are presented below from an interim analysis of the first 31 participants, using linear mixed effects models, however updated results including participants who have subsequently enrolled will be presented. Participants were aged M=53.30 years and enrolled in the program on average 2.73 months after diagnosis. The majority were females with breast cancer (n=29, 88%). A trend towards a significant interaction (p=.08) was obtained where iCanCope lead to reductions in traumatic stress from baseline (Covariate value in both groups; M=11.09) to post-treatment (M=8.62; SE=1.41) and follow-up (M=9.97; SE=1.41); compared to the increases observed in controls at post-treatment (M=13.87, SE=1.41) and follow-up (M=11.22; SE=1.47). A similar non-significant trend was obtained for negative affect, where iCanCope lead to modest reductions and prevented moderate increases observed in controls. Results were mixed for secondary outcomes coping and QOL.
Conclusions: While the study is currently underpowered to detect significant differences, this preliminary analysis of an ongoing RCT demonstrates the feasibility and potential efficacy of utilising an internet CBT program to reduce cancer-distress.