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Twelve-Month Follow-Up of a Randomized Controlled Trial of Internet-Based Guided Self-Help for Parents of Children on Cancer Treatment
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Clinical psychology.
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2017 (English)In: Journal of Medical Internet Research, ISSN 1438-8871, E-ISSN 1438-8871, Vol. 19, no 7, e273Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: A substantial proportion of parents of children on cancer treatment report psychological distress such as symptoms of post-traumatic stress (PTSS), depression, and anxiety. During their child’s treatment many parents also experience an economic burden.

Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the long-term efficacy of Internet-based guided self-help for parents of children on cancer treatment.

Methods: This study was a parallel randomized controlled trial comparing a 10-week Internet-based guided self-help program, including weekly support from a therapist via encrypted email, with a wait-list control condition. The intervention was based on cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and focused on psychoeducation and skills to cope with difficult thoughts and feelings. Primary outcome was self-reported PTSS. Secondary outcomes were self-reported symptoms of depression, anxiety, health care consumption, and sick leave during the past month. Outcomes were assessed pre- and postintervention and at 12-month follow-up. Parents of children on cancer treatment were invited by health care personnel at pediatric oncology centers, and parents meeting the modified symptom criteria on the PCL-C were included in the study. Self-report assessments were provided on the Web.

Results: A total of 58 parents of children on cancer treatment (median months since diagnosis=3) were included in the study (intervention n=31 and control n=27). A total of 18 participants completed the intervention, and 16 participants in each group participated in the 12-month follow-up. Intention-to-treat analyses revealed significant effects in favor of the intervention on the primary outcome PTSS, with large between-group effect sizes at postassessment (d=0.89; 95% CI 0.35-1.43) and at 12-month follow-up (d=0.78; 95% CI 0.25-1.32). Significant effects in favor of the intervention on the secondary outcomes depression and anxiety were also observed. However, there was no evidence for intervention efficacy on health care consumption or sick leave.

Conclusions: Using the Internet to provide psychological interventions shows promise as an effective mode of delivery for parents reporting an increased level of PTSS and who consider Internet-based interventions as a viable option. Future research should corroborate these findings and also develop and evaluate interventions and policies that may help ameliorate the economic burden that parents may face during their child’s treatment for cancer.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 19, no 7, e273
Keyword [en]
cancer, parents, Internet, PTSS, depression, anxiety, clinical trial
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-145461DOI: 10.2196/jmir.6852ISI: 000409234200001PubMedID: 28751300OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-145461DiVA: diva2:1129616
Available from: 2017-08-04 Created: 2017-08-04 Last updated: 2017-09-18Bibliographically approved

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