Background: Approximately one third of all patients who have been successfully treated for cancer suffer from chronic cancer-related fatigue (CCRF). Effective and easily accessible interventions are needed for these patients.
Objective: The current paper reports on the results of a 3-armed randomized controlled trial investigating the clinical effectiveness of two different guided Web-based interventions for reducing CCRF compared to an active control condition.
Methods: Severely fatigued cancer survivors were recruited via online and offline channels, and self-registered on an open-access website. After eligibility checks, 167 participants were randomized via an embedded automated randomization function into: (1) physiotherapist-guided Ambulant Activity Feedback (AAF) therapy encompassing the use of an accelerometer (n=62); (2) psychologist-guided Web-based mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (eMBCT; n=55); or (3) an unguided active control condition receiving psycho-educational emails (n=50). All interventions lasted nine weeks. Fatigue severity was self-assessed using the Checklist Individual Strength - Fatigue Severity subscale (primary outcome) six times from baseline (T0b) to six months (T2). Mental health was self-assessed three times using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (secondary outcome). Treatment dropout was investigated.
Results: Multiple group latent growth curve analysis, corrected for individual time between assessments, showed that fatigue severity decreased significantly more in the AAF and eMBCT groups compared to the psycho-educational group. The analyses were checked by a researcher who was blind to allocation. Clinically relevant changes in fatigue severity were observed in 66% (41/62) of patients in AAF, 49% (27/55) of patients in eMBCT, and 12% (6/50) of patients in psycho-education. Dropout was 18% (11/62) in AAF, mainly due to technical problems and poor usability of the accelerometer, and 38% (21/55) in eMBCT, mainly due to the perceived high intensity of the program.
Conclusions: Both the AAF and eMBCT interventions are effective for managing fatigue severity compared to receiving psycho-educational emails.
Trial registration: Trialregister.nl NTR3483; http://www.trialregister.nl/trialreg/admin/rctview.asp?TC=3483 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6NWZqon3o).
Keywords: Internet interventions; RCT; accelerometry; cancer survivors; fatigue; implementation; latent growth analysis; mindfulness-based cognitive therapy; physiotherapy.
©Fieke Z. Bruggeman-Everts, Marije D. J. Wolvers, Rens van de Schoot, Miriam M. R. Vollenbroek-Hutten, Marije L. Van der Lee. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 19.10.2017.