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The effectiveness of psychosocial online interventions for cancer patients after initial treatment. A review of the literature.

Lohse, Katharina (2014) The effectiveness of psychosocial online interventions for cancer patients after initial treatment. A review of the literature.

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Abstract:Background: Negative psychosocial consequences are common in conjunction with a cancer diagnosis. After completion of initial treatment, patients go through a transition from cancer patient to cancer survivor. This phase of re-entry is associated with a considerable psychosocial burden, affecting various aspects of patients daily life. To challenge those psychosocial disturbances, several approaches exist today. In recent years, the internet has become a popular medium of delivery for psychosocial interventions. Previous reviews however, did not clearly distinguish between cancer patients in initial treatment and cancer survivors. Objective: The aim of this review was to investigate whether psychosocial online interventions are effective in improving psychosocial outcomes in cancer survivors. Furthermore, to explore the therapeutic approaches that have been used in psychosocial online interventions and whether a correlation becomes apparent between effectiveness and the underlying therapeutic approach. Method: Searches were performed in PubMed and PsycINFO, to identify peer-reviewed articles that studied the effects of online psychosocial interventions for cancer survivors. Furthermore the grey literature was searched. Studies were eligible if they focused on adult cancer survivors and addressing at least one of our primary (Quality of Life, distress, depression, anxiety) or secondary (fatigue, pain, physical activity) outcomes. Results: Finally, three studies were identified as eligible. All studies had a moderate risk of bias. Yet, only one intervention had the necessary power to draw conclusions about effectiveness. Significant treatment effects for one outcome were established in two interventions. Participants in this studies were screened on the presence of symptoms in advance. All of the three interventions were based on cognitive behavioural therapy. Conclusions: It is concluded that a limited number of psychosocial interventions is offered to cancer survivors. For that reason, conclusions about the effectiveness could not be drawn. An indicator of effectiveness seemed to be, the inclusion of participants based on the presence of symptoms and the clear specification of theory-based outcomes, which the intervention aims to target. CBT seems to be the means of choice as the underlying approach of structured psychosocial online interventions for cancer survivors. More research in this field is needed to be able to draw strong conclusions about the effectiveness of those interventions.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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