Protocol of a mixed-method randomised controlled pilot study evaluating a wilderness programme for adolescent and young adult cancer survivors: the WAYA study

BMJ Open. 2022 May 9;12(5):e061502. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-061502.


Introduction: The majority of childhood, adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer survivors suffer from long-term and late effects such as fatigue, psychological distress or comorbid diseases. Effective health promotion strategies are needed to support the health of this vulnerable group. This protocol provides a methodological description of a study that aims to examine the feasibility and safety of performing a randomised clinical trial (RCT) on a wilderness programme that is developed to support the health of AYA cancer survivors.

Methods and analysis: The pilot RCT study has a mixed-method design, including quantitative and qualitative evaluations. Participants are AYAs, aged 16-39 years, that have been diagnosed with cancer during childhood, adolescence or young adulthood. A total of 40 participants will be randomly assigned to a wilderness programme (n=20) or a holiday programme (n=20). Both arms include participation in an 8-day summer programme, followed by a 4-day programme 3 months later. Primary outcomes are feasibility and safety parameters such as time to recruitment, willingness to be randomised, programme adherence and adverse effects. Secondary outcomes include self-reported health such as self-esteem, quality of life, self-efficacy and lived experiences. Descriptive statistics will be used to analyse outcomes and explore indications of differences between the programmes. Interviews are analysed by directed content analysis and hermeneutic phenomenology. A convergent parallel mixed-method analysis design will be applied to integrate quantitative and qualitative data. Results of this feasibility study will inform the preparation for a larger RCT with AYA cancer survivors.

Ethics and dissemination: The study protocol is approved by the Swedish Ethical Review Authority (reference: 2020-00239). This study will be performed between January 2021 and December 2023. Results will be published in international peer-reviewed journals, presented at conferences and disseminated to participants, cancer societies, healthcare professionals and outdoor instructors.

Trial registration number: NCT04761042.

Keywords: adult oncology; mental health; paediatric oncology.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial Protocol
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cancer Survivors* / psychology
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Research Design
  • Young Adult

Associated data