Video conference vs face-to-face group psychotherapy for distressed cancer survivors: A randomized controlled trial

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Abstract

Objective: This study assesses the effectiveness of face-to-face group positive psychotherapy for cancer survivors (PPC) compared to its online adaptation, online group positive psychotherapy for cancer survivors (OPPC), which is held via videoconference. A two-arm, pragmatic randomized controlled trial was conducted to examine the effects of both interventions on emotional distress, post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), and post-traumatic growth (PTG) among cancer survivors and analyze attrition to treatment. Methods: Adult women with a range of cancer diagnoses were invited to participate if they experienced emotional distress at the end of their primary oncological treatment. Emotional distress, PTSS, and PTG were assessed at baseline, immediately after treatment, and 3 months after treatment. Intention-to-treat analyses were carried out using general linear mixed models to test the effect of the interventions overtime. Logistic regressions were performed to test differential adherence to treatment and retention to follow-up. Results: A total of 269 individuals participated. The observed treatment effect was significant in both modalities, PPC and OPPC. Emotional distress (b = −2.24, 95% confidence interval [CI] = −3.15 to −1.33) and PTSS (b = −3.25, 95% CI = −4.97 to −1.53) decreased significantly over time, and PTG (b = 3.08, 95% CI = 0.38-5.78) increased significantly. Treatment gains were sustained across outcomes and over time. Analyses revealed no significant differences between modalities of treatment, after adjusting for baseline differences, finding that OPPC is as effective and engaging as PPC. Conclusions: The OPPC treatment was found to be effective and engaging for female cancer early survivors. These results open the door for psycho-oncology interventions via videoconference, which are likely to lead to greater accessibility and availability of psychotherapy.

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Lleras de Frutos, M., Medina, J. C., Vives, J., Casellas-Grau, A., Marzo, J. L., Borràs, J. M., & Ochoa-Arnedo, C. (2020). Video conference vs face-to-face group psychotherapy for distressed cancer survivors: A randomized controlled trial. Psycho-Oncology, 29(12), 1995–2003. https://doi.org/10.1002/pon.5457

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