Pilot testing an app-based stress management intervention for cancer survivors

Transl Behav Med. 2020 Aug 7;10(3):770-780. doi: 10.1093/tbm/ibz062.


Psychosocial eHealth intervention programs for cancer survivors are still in their infancy, with inconsistent findings so far in the scientific literature. The aim of this study was to explore system use, usefulness, ease of use, and preliminary effects of Stress Proffen, an app-based cognitive-behavioral stress management intervention for patients with cancer. A feasibility pilot project tested the intervention with cancer survivors (N = 25). The intervention contained (a) one face-to-face introduction session, (b) 10 app-based modules with stress management educational material and exercises, and (c) one follow-up phone call. Post-intervention interviews were conducted and user log-data were extracted. Outcome measures-Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Anxiety and Depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale [HADS]), Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQoL; SF-36), and Self-Regulatory Fatigue (SRF-18)-were completed at baseline and post-intervention. Participants were primarily women (84%), age 34-71 (mean 48) and represented a variety of cancer diagnoses (majority breast cancer: 40%). Twenty-two participants completed all (pre-post) questionnaires. Sixteen participants (67%) completed at least 7 of 10 modules within the 8-week study period. Post-intervention interviews described StressProffen as providing a new, appreciated, and easily accessible stress management tool for the cancer survivors. Dependent/paired t-tests showed significant pre-post intervention effects with significant decrease in stress (p = .008), anxiety (p = .019), and self-regulatory fatigue (p = .025), and improved HRQoL (Role Physical, General Health, Vitality, and Role Emotional, all p's <.01). App-based stress management interventions such as StressProffen can provide appreciated support for cancer survivors, should be easy to use, can provide significant stress reduction, and improve emotional well-being. Further testing in a randomized controlled trial is warranted and is in progress. Clinicaltrials.gov: NCT0293961.

Keywords: Cancer; Psycho-oncology; Stress management; User-centered design; eHealth; mHealth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms*
  • Cancer Survivors*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life