E-poster Presentation 2014 World Cancer Congress

Improving access to psychological services for people with cancer: A randomised controlled trial of an interactive web-based intervention (#657)

Kate Blackler 1 , Suzanne Chambers 1 2 3 4 5 , Jeff Dunn 1 2 6 7 , Lee Ritterband 8 , Joanne Aitken 1 , Paul Scuffham 9 , Bronwyn Morris 1 2 , Peter Baade 1 , Philippa Youl 1
  1. Cancer Council Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  2. Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  3. Prostate Cancer Foundation Australia, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  4. Health and Wellness Institute, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  5. Centre for Clinical Research, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  6. School of Social Science, University of Queensland, Brisbane , Queensland, Australia
  7. School of Public Health, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  8. Behavioral Health and Technology Lab, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA, USA
  9. School of Medicine, Griffith University, Logan, Queensland, Australia


Approximately one third of cancer survivors experience persistent clinically significant distress [1], and unmet psychological needs in Australian cancer patients are highly prevalent [2]. The Internet presents a potentially feasible method of delivery for psychological care, at a minimal cost and with high community accessibility. 


This two-phased project will develop and trial an innovative Internet-based psychological intervention for distressed cancer patients and assess the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of this intervention.


In the developmental phase we will adapt an existing manualised tele-based and evidence-based cognitive behavioural intervention to a web-based platform; which will be tested for usability, acceptability and user satisfaction in high distress cancer patients.

In the second phase we will conduct a large scale randomised controlled trial with 490 newly diagnosed melanoma and colorectal cancer patients identified as having high distress or at risk of high distress. Participants will be randomised to 1) a static patient education website or, 2) an individualised web-delivered cognitive behavioural intervention – CancerCope. Participants will be assessed at baseline, 2, 6 and 12 months after recruitment.


This presentation will provide an overview of the development and testing of CancerCope.

In the second phase, it is anticipated that participants who receive access to CancerCope will experience significantly less anxiety and depression; less cancer specific distress; lower unmet psychological supportive care needs; higher positive adjustment and improved quality of life compared to participants who receive access to the static patient education website.


There is a clinical imperative to provide accessible evidence-based psychosocial therapies to cancer patients in the acute health care system, and as they progress through survivorship. This project will provide recommendations on the efficacy and potential economic value of a web-based psychological intervention to promote optimal mental health for people living with cancer.

  1. Zabora, J., et al., The prevalence of psychological distress by cancer site. Psycho-Oncology, 2001. 10(1): p. 19-28.
  2. Harrison, J.D., et al., What are the unmet supportive care needs of people with cancer? A systematic review. Supportive Care in Cancer, 2009. 17(8): p. 1117-1128.