Can the internet be used to ease psychological complications following treatment for cancer?

The TrygFonden foundation has made DKK 9.8 million of funding available for new research at Aarhus University intended to establish whether internet-based computer programs can be used to help people who have received treatment for cancer overcome subsequent psychological complications such as anxiety, depression and sleep problems.

2013.02.21 | Tine Bagger Christiansen

Many people who have received treatment for cancer continue to suffer from psychological complications long after the conclusion of their physical treatment. These most commonly take the form of sleep problems, anxiety and depression, as well as concentration and memory issues.

Standard psychological treatment can help in many cases, but a shortage of skilled specialists at local level means that a lot of people do not have access to this kind of assistance.

This unfortunate situation is now set to change thanks to a new DKK 9.8 million research grant from the TrygFonden foundation. The work is the brainchild of researchers from the Aarhus University Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, the Department of Oncology at Aarhus University Hospital and the Danish Cancer Society.

The researchers will be carrying out a range of projects aimed at establishing how effectively internet-based computer programs support lifestyle changes and ease sleep problems, anxiety, depression and concentration and memory issues among people who have been treated for cancer.

Potential to help many more patients

If this approach proves effective among people who have received treatment for cancer, it is very likely that internet-based treatments will have the potential to help other groups of patients within the Danish health service. Professor Bobby Zachariae, one of the leading researchers in the project, explains:

“The psychological complications and challenges we are looking at are widespread in the population, and the treatment methods we are applying are general rather than specific. This means that if the internet-based treatments prove effective with regard to cancer patients, they will open the door to a completely new cost-efficient form of treatment for the Danish health service.”

In addition to support for the development and testing of the individual programs, the TrygFonden foundation has made funds available for establishing a network for the exchange of knowledge and experience between researchers who are working on testing and implementing internet-based treatments.

“It is essential that we work together and exchange experience at both national and international level. This not only allows us to learn from each other, but also ensures that the results we achieve are quickly applied in practice to the benefit of patients everywhere. As such, the network is crucial,” explains Christine Paludan-Müller, Senior Project Manager at the Danish Cancer Society.

Facts:

– The DKK 9.8 million has been made available to researchers from:

The Unit for Psychooncology and Health Psychology (EPoS), the Aarhus University Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, and the Department of Oncology at Aarhus University Hospital.

The Danish Cancer Society Research Centre and the department for Patient Support and Local Input.

– The leading researchers in the project are:

Bobby Zachariae, Professor, Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital.
Anne Tjønneland, Professor, The Danish Cancer Society.
Christine Paludan-Müller, Senior Project Manager at the Danish Cancer Society and Bo Andreasen Rix, Head of Documentation and Development at the Danish Cancer Society.

Contact:

Professor Bobby Zachariae

 

Bobby Zachariae, Professor
Aarhus University
Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, Unit for Psychooncology and Health Psychology (EPoS)
and
Department of Oncology, Aarhus University Hospital.

T: +45 8716 5878
M: +45 2423 5356
E: bzach@aarhus.rm.dk
W: pure.au.dk/portal/da/persons/robert-zachariae(63001d62-2865-45ba-a837-b5199293907c).html

News type, Research news