Journal of pain and symptom management 2017 07 12() pii S0885-3924(17)30272-5
Many breast cancer patients have unmet informational and psychosocial needs after treatment completion. A psycho-educational intervention may be well-suited to support these patients.
The purpose of this multicenter randomized controlled trial was to examine the effectiveness of a web-based tailored psycho-educational program (ENCOURAGE) for breast cancer patients which aims to empower patients to take control over prevailing problems.
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 6 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.
138 patients were included. Almost all patients (67/69) visited ENCOURAGE as requested. No differences between the control and the 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).
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 current study are a starting point for further development and use of the program.