A web-based self-help intervention for partners of cancer patients based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: a protocol of a randomized controlled trial.

N. Kohle, C.H.C. Drossaert, K.M.G. Schreurs, M. Hagedoorn, I.M. Verdonck-de Leeuw, E.T. Bohlmeijer

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: There is a growing recognition that cancer not only affects the lives of the patients, but also the lives of their partners. Partners of cancer patients are highly involved in the illness trajectory by providing informal care and they often experience distress. However, supporting interventions for this group are scarce and existing interventions bear several limitations. On the basis of the need for theory- and evidence-based supportive interventions for partners of cancer patients, the web-based self-help intervention Hold on, for each other has been developed. This intervention is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. The primary objective of the RCT is to investigate the (cost-) effectiveness of the intervention. Additional goals are (1) to examine if psychological flexibility, self-compassion, mastery, supportive behavior, posttraumatic growth and resilience are mediators of the intervention's effects on the partners' mental health; (2) to examine the moderating effects of the socio demographics (age, gender, education, working situation, family situation) and disease-related characteristics of the patients (sort of cancer, stage of disease, duration and treatment of cancer); and (3) to investigate to what extend participants are satisfied with the intervention, which parts of the intervention are mostly used, and how adherent the users are. Methods/Design: A three-armed randomized controlled trial (RCT) will be conducted to compare two versions of the intervention Hold on, for each other with a waiting list control condition. Both intervention conditions contain the same content and differ only with regard to the form of professional support (personal support versus automatic support). Adult partners of cancer patients with mild to moderate depressive and anxiety symptoms, will be recruited through a multi-component strategy. Online measurements by self-assessment will be made on four measurement points (prior to randomization (baseline-measurement) and 3, 6 and 12 months after baseline). Discussion: When proven effective, Hold on, for each other can be an invaluable contribution to the healthcare system and it could be offered to all partners of cancer patients who are in need for additional support. Trial registration: Dutch Trial Register, trial registration number NTR4035, date of registration: 17 March 2013.
Original languageEnglish
Article number303
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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