Context. Many breast cancer patients have unmet informational and psychosocial needs after treatment completion. A psychoeducational intervention may be well suited to support these patients.
Objectives. The purpose of this multicenter randomized controlled trial was to examine the effectiveness of a web-based tailored psychoeducational program (ENCOURAGE) for breast cancer patients, which aims to empower patients to take control over prevailing problems.
Methods. Female breast cancer patients from two hospitals in The Netherlands who recently completed (neo-)adjuvant chemotherapy were randomly assigned to standard care or 12-week access to the ENCOURAGE program providing fully automated information problem-solving strategies, resources, and services for reported problems. At six and 12 weeks, patients completed self-report questions on optimism and control over the future (primary outcome), feelings of being informed, and acceptance of the illness. At baseline and 12 weeks, distress and quality of life questionnaires were completed.
Results. About 138 patients were included. Almost all patients (67 of 69) visited ENCOURAGE as requested. No differences between the control and intervention group were observed for primary and secondary outcomes. An unplanned subgroup analysis showed that in clinically distressed patients (N = 57 at baseline; 41%), use of the ENCOURAGE program increased optimism and control over the future at 12 weeks more than in patients in the control group (Cohen's d = 0.65).
Conclusion. Although the effectiveness was not demonstrated, a subgroup of women treated for breast cancer can probably be supported by the program. The results of the present study are a starting point for further development and use of the program.
- breast cancer
- PSYCHOLOGICAL ADJUSTMENT
- DISTRESS THERMOMETER
- SUPPORT GROUPS
- 1ST YEAR