Online self-help program boosts quality of life for cancer patients

An online psychological support resource can reduce stress and offer significant improvements to self-assessed quality of life among cancer patients, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

For the study, researchers enrolled 129 cancer patients between September 2014 and November 2016. At the time of enrollment, patients had initiated cancer treatment within the previous 12 weeks. Researchers assigned patients to either an intervention or control group. The intervention group had access to an eight-week online psychological support resource equipped with downloadable audio files on individual exercises and other information on managing life with cancer. Participants in this group also completed weekly online modules on living with cancer. Psychologists provided feedback via email after the completion of each module. The control group only received access to the intervention after an eight-week waiting period.

By the end of the eight weeks, participants who completed the online program scored higher than the control group on self-assessed quality of life scores. Additionally, the intervention group displayed significantly lower levels of distress than the control group.

In this randomized trial, we found that a web-based, guided self-help intervention resulted in a clinically meaningful improvement in quality of life," concluded the study's authors. "Our results indicate that web-based, guided self-help has potential to efficiently support newly diagnosed patients with cancer."

More articles on patient engagement: 
How chaplains can improve palliative care: 5 things to know 
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Cancer patients want say in where they die: 4 things to know

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