Cancer Thriving and Surviving: An On-line Workshop That Improves Quality of Life.

Katy Plant* Katy Plant*, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, United States

Track: Research
Presentation Topic: Participatory health care
Presentation Type: Oral presentation
Submission Type: Single Presentation

Building: LKSC Conference Center Stanford
Room: Lower Auditorium 130
Date: 2011-09-17 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Last modified: 2011-08-12

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Surviving cancer following initial treatment is ever more common. Cancer survivors, even those with low chances of reoccurrence, have been shown to be depressed, suffer post traumatic stress, and have poor sleep among many other problems. These issues are seldom addressed in standard cancer treatment. Cancer Thriving and Surviving, a six week peer facilitated, asynchronous workshop was developed to determine the: 1. Acceptability of an online interactive six-week program for cancer survivors 2. Effectiveness of the intervention (improvements in depression sleep anxiety, stress, role function, fatigue and self-rated health) 3. Patterns of health care utilization (visits to oncologists, visits to other physicians, nights in hospital, and emergency department use.
British Survivors with five years of survivorship or less were recruited mostly from the Macmillan Cancer Support Trust website to participate in a six week, peer led, cancer survivor workshop. The workshops combined the strengths of interactive didactic content, structured social networking, and self tailoring. Workshops offered approximately 30 pages of new interactive didactic material each week, as well a four threaded discussion boards where participants could interact. There were also sections for keeping individual records, links to other websites, and an internal post office for messaging individual participants. The workshop was based on self-efficacy theory and self-tailoring. Workshop topics included: stress, pain, sleep, depression fatigue and weight management, problem solving, finding joy, goal setting, action planning, decision making, exercise, healthy eating, dealing with difficult emotions, body changes, effects of treatment, medications, communications and working with the health care team. Data was collected online using standardized validated instruments at baseline and six months later. Data were analyzed utilizing student T-tests.
312 survivors left contact information, 145 completed baseline questionnaires, 135 participated in one or more workshop session and 110, completed follow up data. 82.6% of participants logging on at least once for each of the six sessions with a mean log in of 5.5 times per week. Participants visited a mean of over 1300 different web pages. Each workshop generated approximately 1000 bulletin board posts. Significant improvements (p<.01) were shown in fatigue, depression, stress, sleep, role function and overall quality of life.
The workshop format was acceptable to users and proved to be highly engaging. The workshop was also effective in improving both quality of life and exercise. A larger randomized trial is being conducted. If the findings are replicated, this workshop may have a place in assisting cancer survivors with problems that are not well managed in the current health care system.

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