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Internet interventions for improving psychological well-being in psycho-oncology: review and recommendations

Authors


Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, 401 Parnassus Avenue, Box 0984-F, San Francisco, CA 94143-0984, USA. E-mail: Laura.Dunn@ucsf.edu

Abstract

Objective

Too few cancer patients and survivors receive evidence-based interventions for mental health symptoms. This review examines the potential for Internet interventions to help fill treatment gaps in psychosocial oncology and presents evidence regarding the likely utility of Internet interventions for cancer patients.

Methods

The authors examined available literature regarding Internet interventions tailored to cancer patients' mental health needs and reviewed elements of Internet interventions for mental health relevant to advancing psycho-oncology Internet intervention research.

Results

Few rigorous studies focusing on mental health of cancer patients have been conducted online. A growing body of evidence supports the efficacy, accessibility, and acceptability of mental health Internet interventions for a variety of general and medical patient populations. The authors present recommendations and guidelines to assist researchers in developing, testing, and disseminating Internet interventions for cancer patients and survivors, to manage and improve their mental health. Issues unique to Internet interventions—including intervention structure, customization, provider interaction, and privacy and confidentiality issues—are discussed. These guidelines are offered as a step toward establishing a set of “best practices” for Internet interventions in psycho-oncology and to generate further discussion regarding the goals of such interventions and their place in cancer care.

Conclusions

Internet interventions have the potential to fill an important gap in quality cancer care by augmenting limited available mental health services. These interventions should be developed in a manner consistent with best practices and must be empirically tested and validated. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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