Background: Mindfulness-based interventions have shown to reduce psychological distress in cancer patients. The accessibility of mindfulness-based interventions for cancer patients could be further improved by providing mindfulness using an individual internet-based format. The aim of this study is to test the effectiveness of a Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) group intervention for cancer patients in comparison with individual internet-based MBCT and treatment as usual (TAU).
Methods/design: A three-armed multicenter randomized controlled trial comparing group-based MBCT to individual internet-based MBCT and TAU in cancer patients who suffer from at least mild psychological distress (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) ≥ 11). Measurements will be conducted prior to randomization (baseline), post-treatment and at 3 months and 9 months post-treatment. Participants initially allocated to TAU are subsequently randomized to either group- or individual internet-based MBCT and will receive a second baseline measurement after 3 months. Thus, the three-armed comparison will have a time span of approximately 3 months. The two-armed intervention comparison includes a 9-month follow-up and will also consist of participants randomized to the intervention after TAU. Primary outcome will be post-treatment psychological distress (HADS). Secondary outcomes are fear of cancer recurrence (Fear of Cancer Recurrence Inventory), rumination (Rumination and Reflection Questionnaire), positive mental health (Mental Health Continuum - Short Form), and cost-effectiveness (health-related quality of life (EuroQol -5D and Short Form-12) and health care usage (Trimbos and iMTA questionnaire on Costs associated with Psychiatric illness). Potential predictors: DSM-IV-TR mood/anxiety disorders (SCID-I) and neuroticism (NEO-Five Factor Inventory) will be measured. Mediators of treatment effect: mindfulness skills, (Five-Facets of Mindfulness Questionnaire- Short Form), working alliance (Working Alliance Inventory) and group cohesion (Group Cohesion Questionnaire) will also be measured.
Discussion: This trial will provide valuable information on the clinical and cost-effectiveness of group versus internet-based MBCT versus TAU for distressed cancer patients.
Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov NCT02138513. Registered 6 May 2014.
Keywords: Cancer; Distress; E-health; Internet-based; Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy; Randomized controlled trial.