Effect of Internet peer-support groups on psychosocial adjustment to cancer: a randomised study

Br J Cancer. 2010 Apr 27;102(9):1348-54. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6605646.


Background: We conducted a randomised study to investigate whether providing a self-guided Internet support group to cancer patients affected mood disturbance and adjustment to cancer.

Methods: Baseline and 1-, 6- and 12-month assessments were conducted from 2004 to 2006 at a national rehabilitation centre in Denmark. A total of 58 rehabilitation course weeks including 921 survivors of various cancers were randomly assigned to a control or an intervention group by cluster randomisation. The intervention was a lecture on the use of the Internet for support and information followed by participation in an Internet support group. Outcome measures included self-reported mood disturbance, adjustment to cancer and self-rated health. Differences in scores were compared between the control group and the intervention group.

Results: The effect of the intervention on mood disturbance and adjustment to cancer showed a transient difference at the 6-month follow-up, where the intervention group reported less reduction in anxious preoccupation (P=0.04), helplessness (P=0.002), confusion (P=0.001) and depression (P=0.04). Otherwise no significant effects were observed.

Conclusion: We conclude that use of Internet-based support groups in cancer patients still needs to confirm long-lasting psychological effects.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Aged
  • Anger
  • Attitude to Health
  • Confusion
  • Denmark
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Neoplasms / rehabilitation*
  • Patient Selection
  • Self-Help Groups*
  • Social Adjustment
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survivors / psychology
  • Treatment Outcome