Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of an interactive self-help workbook in reducing distress, and improving quality of life (QOL) and coping for women recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
Design: Randomised controlled trial comparing the use of the workbook and that of an information booklet.
Participants and setting: 49 women with Stage 0 to II breast cancer diagnosed in the previous month and recruited from 1 February 2007 to 1 February 2008, in two urban Australian public hospitals.
Main outcome measures: The primary outcome measures were depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress. Secondary outcomes included QOL, body image, and the coping styles helplessness/hopelessness, cognitive avoidance and anxious preoccupation.
Results: After controlling for baseline levels, interactions at 3-month follow-up showed that participants in the workbook group had significantly lower levels of posttraumatic stress (F[1,89] = 7.01; P = 0.01), helplessness/hopelessness (F [1,89] = 4.75; P = 0.03), and cognitive avoidance (F [1,89] = 4.95; P = 0.03) than those in the control (information booklet) group. However, women in the workbook group had significantly poorer body image than those in the control group (F [1,89] = 6.43; P = 0.01). At 6 months, only the body image interaction remained significant (F [1,93] = 7.44; P = 0.01).
Conclusion: These results suggest that a self-help workbook can be an effective, short-term intervention for improving posttraumatic stress, cognitive avoidance, and certain depressive symptoms in women recently diagnosed with breast cancer. However, issues related to body image need to be dealt with differently.
Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry