Effective, clinically feasible and sustainable: Key design features of psycho-educational and supportive care interventions to promote individualised self-management in cancer care

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Schofield, Penelope
Chambers, Suzanne
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As the global burden of cancer increases healthcare services will face increasing challenges in meet the complex needs of these patients, their families and the communities in which they live. This raises the question of how to meet patient need where direct clinical contact may be constrained or not readily available. Patients and families require resources and skills to manage their illness outside of the hospital setting within their own communities.

Aim. To propose a framework for the development and delivery of psycho-educational and supportive care interventions drawing on theoretical principles of behaviour change and evidence-based interventions, and based on extensive experience in developing and testing complex interventions in oncology.

Approach. At the core of this intervention framework are considerations of efficiency: interventions are designed to cater for individuals’ unique needs; to place minimal demands on the health system infrastructure and to be rapidly disseminated into usual care if successful. There are seven key features: 1) Targeting cancer type and stage; 2) Tailoring to unique individual needs; 3) Promotion of patient self-management of their disease and treatment side effects; 4) Efficient delivery of the intervention; 5) Training and adherence to protocol; 6) Ensuring the intervention is evidence-based; 7) Confirming stakeholder acceptability of the intervention.

Application. A case study of a randomised controlled trial which tested psycho-educational oncology interventions using this framework is presented. These interventions were designed to cater for individuals’ unique needs and promote self-management while placing minimal demands on the acute health care setting.

Discussion. Innovative ways to realise the potentially major impact that psycho-educational and supportive care interventions can have on psychological morbidity, coping, symptoms and quality of life in serious and chronic illness are needed. This framework, which is driven by theory, evidence, and experience, is designed to ensure that interventions are effective, clinically feasible and sustainable.

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Acta Oncologica

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