New Study: Evidence-based treatment for Fear Cancer Recurrence


Psychologist Marieke van de Wal this week received her PhD in Medical Psychology from Radboud University Nijmegen. She demonstrated the efficacy of managing the fear of cancer recurrence in the so-called SWORD study. Read on to learn more on her motive for studying this subject, what the study was about and what it revealed.

The SWORD study

Fear of the recurrence of cancer is one of the most prevalent worries of patients after cancer treatment. Since the treatment options for this kind of fear lacked evidence-based treatment until now, PhD student Marieke van de Wal invested in research on this subject. Her research, the SWORD study (Survivors Worries of Recurrent Disease) has been carried out in collaboration with the Radboud University Medical Center, using Karify’s eHealth platform.

Evidence-based treatment for the fear of cancer recurrence

Previous studies revealed the efficacy of both the individual as well as the group interventions in reducing the fear of cancer recurrence. These face to face interventions, however, have some restrictions like the high labour intensity, the time invested, stigma, reluctance to going back to the hospital and indirect costs (e.g. labour and travelling costs).

With the help of integrated care, a combination of online and face to face care, the possibility arises to take away the aforementioned barriers.

Integrated care

Evidence-based treatment was lacking until now. Besides, no research was conducted to invest in the efficacy of integrated care for patients after cancer treatment. In the SWORD study, integrated care has been used to research the treatment of the fear of cancer recurrence.

The SWORD study is a combination of face to face sessions with a therapist and online therapy to make the fear of cancer recurrence more manageable. Next to the well-known face to face conversations, the patients also had access to online supplementary care like a website and chat conversations with their therapist. The intervention, as part of the SWORD study, took three months.

Efficacy SWORD study

The study revealed that patients in the SWORD intervention experienced less fear than patients who were not part of the intervention. Besides, they reported a better quality of life. The results apply both to the individual patients as the ones at the group level.

Karify and online support with cancer

Karify has been involved repeatedly with the online mental support for cancer patients. In collaboration with the Radboud University Medical Center and Pink Ribbon we developed the online self-help program ‘Catching your breath after breast cancer’: a self-help website based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Would you like to know more? Last month we published a blog post on this program.

Besides, Karify works together with the Netherlands Comprehensive Cancer Organisation and the Helen Dowling Institute for online mental care for cancer patients.

Want to know more?

Read the full study on Journal of Clinical Oncology.