Cancer patients: online program improves quality of life
The diagnosis of cancer is an enormous psychological burden for those affected. But not all cancer patients receive psychological support. A new study now shows that an online stress management program can significantly improve the quality of life of those affected.
Online stress management program for cancer patients
Cancer always means a considerable strain on the psyche. According to the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), around 30 percent of all cancer patients suffer from an accompanying mental illness. A cancer diagnosis is a shock for all those affected, and professional help is advisable when dealing with it. Unfortunately, many patients do not receive psychological support. An online stress management program can significantly improve the quality of life. This is now shown by a study by researchers from the University of Basel and the University Hospital Basel, which was published in the "Journal of Clinical Oncology".
Psychological stress affects the quality of life
The psychological stress caused by cancer affects the quality of life and can also have a negative effect on the therapy and the course of the disease.
For example, some scientists from the University of Brighton (Great Britain) found in a study that stress can reduce the effectiveness of cancer drugs.
According to experts, cancer treatments should therefore be combined with psychological support, but today this is far from being a reality for everyone affected.
Especially in the difficult period immediately after diagnosis, only a minority receive psychological professional support.
Actively reduce stress
In order to reach people with cancer in this difficult situation and to offer them a low-threshold way to deal with the stress, researchers from the University of Basel and the University Hospital Basel have developed the online stress management program STREAM ("Actively reduce stress").
Over eight weeks, patients are shown strategies, how to cope with cancer, using information, individual exercises and specific instructions.
To do this, they log in via personal, anonymous access. Once a week, a written exchange with a psychologist takes place via an integrated email platform.
First study in German-speaking countries
A study now shows that the web-based counseling and care offer significantly improves the quality of life of those affected and the stress experienced can be significantly reduced.
A total of 129 patients from Switzerland, Germany and Austria were divided into an intervention or control group within twelve weeks of starting cancer therapy.
The latter only had access to the program after a waiting period of eight weeks, which made it possible to compare the two groups.
The people who had completed the STREAM program (mostly breast cancer patients) rated their quality of life much better than the control group.
The negative stress, measured on a scale from 0 to 10, also decreased significantly more in the online group than in the control group.
Support newly diagnosed cancer patients efficiently
"The results show that web-based self-help with regular e-mail contact with the psychologist has the potential to support newly diagnosed cancer patients efficiently and thus significantly improve their treatment," commented Prof. Dr. Viviane Hess, Professor of Medical Oncology and Senior Physician Oncology in Basel in a message.
In addition to the previous offers, the online program opens up new opportunities to support those affected who could not previously be reached.
“The digital natives are approaching the age at which the risk of age-related diseases such as cancer increases. This is one of the reasons why approaches to integrating the Internet into patient care will continue to gain importance, ”said Viviane Hess. (ad)