Poster Presentation COSA-IPOS Joint Scientific Meeting 2012

A prospective study of the role of client variables in distress and therapy outcome within a community cancer counselling service. (#538)

Patricia Rolls 1 , Sandy Hutchison 1 , Samantha Clutton 1 , Esben Strodl 2 , Suzanne Chambers 3
  1. Cancer Council Queensland, Fortitude Valley, QLD, Australia
  2. School of Psychology, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
  3. Viertel Centre for Research in Cancer Control, Cancer Council Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia


Cancer Council Queensland provides both telephone and face to face counselling throughout Queensland via its Cancer Counselling Service. This paper will describe results of an analysis of data routinely collected from face to face clients, as well as provide a general description of the CCS and findings obtained from telephone clients of the service. The study below describes the face to face clients and explores the relationship between their demographic, medical, and psychosocial variables, using cross-sectional and longitudinal data from a range of psychological measures.


452 face-to-face counselling service clients completed pre-therapy assessments (T1). 209 clients completed post therapy assessment (T2). Independent variables were demographic, medical and psycho-social factors. Dependent variables were general distress, mental health, traumatic impact, and positive affect. Analyses used were regression and structural equation modelling.


Clinically reliable changes were found for most clients. A range of outcomes were seen to improve significantly over the course of treatment including: general distress; traumatic stress; mental wellbeing; positive affect; life satisfaction; perceived social support and relationship satisfaction. Distress at T1 was strongest predictor of outcome at T2. Psychosocial factors played a moderating role at T1. Structural equation modelling demonstrated that T1 Distress moderated the effect of psychosocial factors on outcome at T2. Demographic and medical factors were not reliably predictive. Attrition reasons between T1 and T2 included ill health, death and single session-only clients.


This model is unique in Australia, with no other State offering comprehensive evidence based cancer-specific counselling delivered by psychologists at no cost to clients. This research program has provided Level IV evidence that face-to-face and telephone therapy can have a positive effect on cancer related distress. Importantly, not only were a broad range of psychosocial problems addressed, but for most clients this can be achieved within five intervention sessions.