Making Internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy scalable for cancer survivors: a randomized non-inferiority trial of self-guided and technician-guided therapy

D. Dirkse, H. D. Hadjistavropoulos, N. A. Alberts, E. Karin, L. H. Schneider, N. Titov, B. F. Dear

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    Purpose: To compare the effectiveness and acceptability of two low-intensity methods of offering a transdiagnostic Internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy (ICBT) intervention for treating symptoms of anxiety and depression among cancer survivors. Methods: Cancer survivors with symptoms of anxiety or depression (n = 86) were randomly assigned to receive a transdiagnostic ICBT programme (Wellbeing After Cancer) that was either guided by a technician (n = 42) or self-guided (n = 44). Measures of anxiety, depression, fear of cancer recurrence, and quality of life were completed at pre-treatment, post-treatment, and 4 weeks following treatment completion. Results: Large within-group effect sizes were observed on measures of depression, anxiety, and mental health-related quality of life (d range, 0.98–1.86) at post-treatment. Medium effects were found for reductions in fear of cancer recurrence (d range, 0.65–0.78). Non-inferiority was established for the primary outcome measures of anxiety and depression. All participants reported high satisfaction ratings of the programme; however, technician-guided participants were slightly more satisfied with their level of support (d = 0.57, p =.014). Conclusions: The Wellbeing After Cancer Course was associated with improved levels of anxiety, depression, fear of cancer recurrence, and quality of life, regardless of how ICBT was offered. Implications for Cancer Survivors: ICBT is emerging as an accessible and effective treatment for depression, anxiety, and fear of cancer recurrence in cancer survivors. The success of non-therapist-guided options increases the potential scalability of ICBT, which is particularly valuable for cancer survivors from rural areas who have less access to mental health services.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)211-225
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Cancer Survivorship
    Volume14
    Issue number2
    Early online date18 Dec 2019
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

    Keywords

    • internet
    • cognitive behaviour therapy
    • anxiety
    • depression
    • cancer survivor
    • randomized trial

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