Preliminary Results of a Randomised Controlled Trial of an Online Psychological Intervention to Reduce Distress in Men Treated for Localised Prostate Cancer

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Wootten A.C., Abbott J.-A.M., Meyer D., Chisholm K., Austin D.W., Klein B., McCabe M., Murphy D.G., Costello A.J.

European Urology 2015 68:3 (471-479) Article Number 5913

Background Prostate cancer (PCa) poses many emotional and physical challenges for men following treatment. The unmet support needs of these men are well documented, and access to psychosocial support remains problematic. Objectives To assess the efficacy of an online psychological intervention for men who have localised PCa. Design, setting, and participants We undertook a randomised controlled trial to evaluate the intervention. Participants were randomly allocated to one of three conditions: My Road Ahead (MRA) alone (MRA Only), MRA plus access to an online forum (MRA + Forum), and access to the forum alone (Forum). Intervention The intervention was a 10-week self-guided online psychological intervention called My Road Ahead that consisted of six themed modules designed to facilitate improved emotional well-being in the context of PCa as well as a moderated peer forum. Outcome measurements and statistical analysis Pre- and postintervention assessments of psychological distress (the 21-question Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale) [1] and the Prostate Cancer-related Quality of Life scale [2] were conducted. Multivariate analysis of variance, regression, and structural equation modelling were used to analyse the data. Results and limitations In total, 142 participants were randomly allocated to one of the three intervention arms. The mean age of participants was 61 yr of age (standard deviation: 7), and 88% had undergone radical prostatectomy. A significant improvement in psychological distress was observed for participants who had access to the combined condition (MRA + Forum) with a moderate effect size (p = 0.02; partial ?<sup>2</sup> = 0.07). In particular, the decline in the mean level of psychological distress was 8.8 units larger for the MRA + Forum group than the Forum group (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.9-16.7). Although the decline in the mean level of psychological distress was 7.0 units larger for the MRA + Forum group than for the MRA Only group, this difference was not significant (95% CI, 1.1-15.1). Structural equation modelling indicated that reductions in health worry and regret contributed significantly to the reductions in psychological distress for the MRA + Forum condition. Conclusions This study is the first, to our knowledge, that has evaluated a self-guided online psychological intervention tailored to the specific needs of men who have PCa. The findings of this study indicate the potential for this programme to deliver support that men may not otherwise receive. Patient summary This study found that men who have localised prostate cancer who received access to the online psychological intervention called My Road Ahead combined with the online peer discussion forum had significantly improved reductions in distress compared with those who received access to the online intervention alone or the forum alone.

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