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J Med Internet Res. 2018 Apr 18;20(4):e133. doi: 10.2196/jmir.9457.

Development of an Internet-Administered Cognitive Behavior Therapy Program (ENGAGE) for Parents of Children Previously Treated for Cancer: Participatory Action Research Approach.

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Clinical Psychology in Healthcare, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.



Parenting a child through cancer is a distressing experience, and a subgroup of parents report negative long-term psychological consequences years after treatment completion. However, there is a lack of evidence-based psychological interventions for parents who experience distress in relation to a child's cancer disease after end of treatment.


One aim of this study was to develop an internet-administered, cognitive behavior therapy-based, psychological, guided, self-help intervention (ENGAGE) for parents of children previously treated for cancer. Another aim was to identify acceptable procedures for future feasibility and efficacy studies testing and evaluating the intervention.


Participatory action research methodology was used. The study included face-to-face workshops and related Web-based exercises. A total of 6 parents (4 mothers, 2 fathers) of children previously treated for cancer were involved as parent research partners. Moreover, 2 clinical psychologists were involved as expert research partners. Research partners and research group members worked collaboratively throughout the study. Data were analyzed iteratively using written summaries of the workshops and Web-based exercises parallel to data collection.


A 10-week, internet-administered, cognitive behavior therapy-based, psychological, guided, self-help intervention (ENGAGE) was developed in collaboration with parent research partners and expert research partners. The content of the intervention, mode and frequency of e-therapist support, and the individualized approach for feedback were modified based on the research partner input. Shared solutions were reached regarding the type and timing of support from an e-therapist (eg, initial video or telephone call, multiple methods of e-therapist contact), duration and timing of intervention (eg, 10 weeks, 30-min assessments), and the removal of unnecessary support functions (eg, removal of chat and forum functions). Preferences for study procedures in future studies testing and evaluating the intervention were discussed; consensus was not reached for all aspects.


To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first use of a participatory action research approach to develop a psychological intervention for parents of children previously treated for cancer and to identify acceptable study procedures. Involvement of parents with lived experience was vital in the development of a potentially relevant and acceptable intervention for this population.


Sweden; cognitive therapy; community participation; e-therapy; psychology, clinical

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