The Norwegian Cancer Society (Kreftforeningen #4602492) and Oslo University Hospital
A cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment can be disruptive and traumatic, often accompanied by a multitude of stressors for the patients. Uncertainty of outcome and invasive medical procedures with aversive side effects are not uncommon, and while people differ widely in how they experience and cope with such challenges, cancer related distress including anxiety, depression, worry and rumination is prevalent. Psychosocial interventions in cancer can facilitate psychological adaptation to cancer, including reducing distress, anxiety, negative affect and depression, as well as improving quality of life.
This study combines well-established stress management interventions for cancer patients with cutting edge computerized technology at the Department of Digital Health Research (formerly Center for Shared Decision Making and Collaborative Care Research) at Oslo University Hospital, creating an innovative app-based cognitive behavioral stress management intervention for cancer patients in Norway.
In phase I (2015/2017), the intervention was designed, developed, tailored and piloted by specialists in psychosocial oncology, stress management and eHealth, in close collaboration with patients with cancer and related health care personnel. This phase resulted in the StressProffen™©, an evidence-based stress management program with 10 cognitive behavioral stress management-based modules, including educational material, coping strategies and suggested relaxation techniques. The program is designed for both android and ios (apple), and can be used on smart phones as well as tablets.
In phase II (2017/2020), the effect of the StressProffen™© intervention is being tested with repeated measures in a randomized controlled trial (RCT), examining impact on stress, distress, quality of life, self-regulation, coping, and health behaviors. Participants are cancer patients (N=180) in Norway diagnosed with various types of cancer and randomized to either the intervention or to standard care.
Participants in the intervention group have received a face-to-face introductory group session before downloading and proceeding with the StressProffen™© app. If effective, the StressProffen™© program has the potential to generally enhance well-being, self-management and sense of self-control for patients living with cancer. The intervention can provide extensive outreach, improved flexibility and high accessibility for a diverse group of cancer patients in more cost-effective ways, potentially also reducing burden on the health care system.
So far, StressProffen™© exists in Norwegian and English versions. The program has great potential, and new studies examining StressProffen with additional patients groups are currently in planning and progress.