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J Clin Oncol. 2013 Sep 20;31(27):3411-7. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2012.46.9015. Epub 2013 Aug 12.

Project connect online: randomized trial of an internet-based program to chronicle the cancer experience and facilitate communication.

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  • 1Annette L. Stanton, Elizabeth H. Thompson, Catherine M. Crespi, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles; John S. Link, Breastlink Medical Group, Orange; and James R. Waisman, City of Hope, Duarte, CA.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Evidence suggests that expressing emotions related to cancer and receiving interpersonal support can promote psychological and physical health in women diagnosed with breast cancer. However, adaptive expression of feelings and communication with one's social network can pose challenges for patients with cancer. We report on a randomized controlled trial of an intervention, Project Connect Online, for patients with breast cancer to create personal Web sites to chronicle their experience and communicate with their social network.

PATIENTS AND METHODS:

Women (N = 88) diagnosed with breast cancer (any stage, any interval since diagnosis) were randomly assigned to participate in a 3-hour workshop for hands-on creation of personal Web sites with a follow-up call to facilitate Web site use, or to a waiting-list control. Assessed before randomization and 6 months after the intervention, dependent variables included depressive symptoms, positive and negative mood, cancer-related intrusive thoughts, and perceived cancer-related benefits in life appreciation and strengthened relationships.

RESULTS:

Relative to control participants, women randomly assigned to Project Connect Online evidenced significant benefit 6 months later on depressive symptoms, positive mood, and life appreciation, but not negative mood, perceived strengthened relationships, or intrusive thoughts. Treatment status moderated the intervention effects, such that women currently undergoing medical treatment for cancer benefitted significantly more from the intervention on depressive symptoms and positive mood than did women not receiving treatment.

CONCLUSION:

Findings suggest the promise of an intervention to facilitate the ability of women diagnosed with breast cancer to chronicle their experience and communicate with their social network via the Internet.

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