Depression and anxiety rates are higher in cancer patients and cancer-survivors compared to the general population, but often remain untreated. To address this treatment gap, in a collaborative project between the PsychoOncology Cooperative Research Group (PoCoG) led by Prof Butow, and Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression led by Prof Andrews, we developed a new 8-lesson online CBT program for the management of depression and anxiety specifically tailored for individuals with early stage cancer and cancer survivors was developed. The aim of the current study was to evaluate efficacy and acceptability of internet CBT compared to usual care.
Adults with either a prior experience of early stage cancer (‘survivor’) or currently undergoing treatment for early stage cancer (‘treatment’) and met criteria for DSM-5 diagnosis of an anxiety or depressive disorder were recruited and randomized to either internet CBT or a usual care control group who received the intervention after a 16-week waiting period. Participants were given access to lessons on a fortnightly basis and received clinician support throughout their treatment program. The primary outcome measure was the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.
Results from the RCT will be presented. The RCT is anticipated to yield evidence showing that internet CBT is superior to usual care in reducing depression, anxiety and distress and is a satisfactory treatment for people with cancer and cancer survivors suffering from anxiety and depression.
Internet delivered CBT for anxiety and depression specifically tailored for early stage cancer and cancer survivors may provide an exciting new avenue to increase access to psychological treatment in the cancer context.