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Health-Space Study

Jason Owen at Loma Linda University
Study abstract

The specific aims of the proposed study are 1) to evaluate the feasibility of a randomized, controlled trial of an online social-networking intervention and to identify key strengths and weaknesses of the intervention materials and 2) to estimate effect sizes necessary for adequately powering a larger controlled trial comparing face-to-face and online interventions.

To accomplish these aims, a registry-based recruitment procedure will be used to identify recently diagnosed individuals with cancer who are currently experiencing significant cancer-related distress. Individuals interested in participating in the study will be randomized to receive access to a 12-week internet-based treatment group or to a 12-week waiting list control group. Subjects assigned to the treatment group will have access to a group discussion board, a structured 12-week coping-skills training course, professional facilitation of the group, a real-time chat board, and personal profiles established by other group members. Subjects will be asked to complete online self-report measures of distress, mood disturbance, and quality of life at baseline and again after participation in the 12-week group. Wait-list control subjects will be able to join a group after they complete the 12-week assessment and will be asked to complete a 24-week assessment in order to measure change over time. It is hypothesized that the treatment group will show greater improvements in quality of life and mood disturbance compared to the control group and that greater levels of engagement with the intervention materials will be associated with greater improvements in mood and quality of life. Long-term goals of the research team are to continually improve effect sizes and accessibility of psychosocial interventions for cancer survivors and to evaluate the effects of internet-based and face-to-face interventions in a head-to-head trial.

Study review

This study at Loma Linda University, in California, is investigating the effect that a social-networking website that allows cancer patients to communicate, share information, and provide support to others over the Internet has on cancer-related distress. The researchers wanted to enroll at least 120 women and men who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. The Call to Action for this study was sent to Army of Women members on August 24, 2011. The researchers were able to close enrollment on August 25, 2011, after the Army of Women provided them with 380 people who were interested in enrolling in the study

Resulting Publications: