Oral Presentation COSA-IPOS Joint Scientific Meeting 2012

Addressing common barriers to using self-directed, coping skills training booklets for couples facing cancer (#78)

Sylvie D Lambert 1 , Hayley Candler 1 , Afaf Girgis 1 , Jane Turner 2 , Tim Regan 3 , Karen Kayser 4
  1. The University of New South Wales, Liverpool , NSW, Australia
  2. Mental Health Centre, The University of Queensland, Herston, Queensland, Australia
  3. Centre for Brain and Mental Health Research (CBMHR), Calvary Mater Newcastle, The University of Newcastle, Waratah, New South Wales, Australia
  4. Kent School of Social Work, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA

Although self-directed, coping skills interventions overcome sustainability and cost challenges of face-to-face interventions, little is known about the extent to which individuals are willing to use self-directed resources. This presentation reports on couples’ evaluations of mailed, coping skills training booklets, focusing on the extent of use of the booklets, barriers to use, and strategies to address these barriers. A mixed group of patients diagnosed with cancer and/or their partner (n= 50, to date) were interviewed to obtain feedback on the booklets’ strengths/weaknesses and explore couples’ willingness to use these as part of an initial qualitative feasibility study and follow-up, pilot RCT. The semi-structured interviews were audio-taped, transcribed verbatim and coded. The self-directed format was appealing to most participants, particularly those who did not feel comfortable attending support groups. However, two main limitations of the booklets were noted: few participants completed the booklet exercises and patients and partners were not planning to use the booklets together. Although a sub-group of participants felt comfortable picking and choosing the content that was relevant to them, it was readily apparent that introducing a self-directed resource to couples at a time when they are likely to experience stress highlighted a range of barriers that impacted on the extent of use, and a sub-group of couples reported no to minimal use. These participants identified a number of strategies to promote use, including combining with other formats (orientation session and DVD), including tools to help pin-point areas on which to focus, decreasing emotional tone of the information, increasing number of testimonials, and tailoring content. Preliminary evaluation of this self-directed intervention endorses the practical approach and highlights improvements to enhance its contribution to patient and partner coping with a diagnosis of cancer.