12 July 2019

Anne Speckens, professor of Psychiatry, and Judith Prins, professor of medical psychology, received a KWF grant to do research on online mindfulness therapy for patients diagnosed with cancer and have psychological problems. With this project, to be carried out in collaboration with Twente University, the researchers hope to make Mindfulness-based Cognitieve Therapie (MBCT) available and accessible to cancer patients on a larger scale.

Mindfulness-based Cognitieve Therapie (MBCT) is one of the effective treatments against complaints of anxiety and depression among cancer patients. In MBCT, a therapy consisting of eight group sessions, developing mindfulness is the central aim. Mindfulness, by definition, is the ability to focus your attention on the present moment, through a positive, and a judgment free manner. Mindfulness can help people to make conscious decisions about how to cope with habits that are not helpful.

Online

Patients diagnosed with cancer are not always able to join MBCT group sessions. It is therefore why there has been a previous research on whether it was possible to have an online and individual MBCT. While online MBCT seemed effective, there are however some drawbacks. Patients tend to quit earlier than usual, and they miss peer support and direct interaction with their supervisor.

Testing two interventions

Building upon the already existing online therapy, the researchers want to develop two new MBCT variants during this new project, which will be carried out in collaboration with patients and patient organisations. The first variant is a blended-MBCT, in which online and group session will be combined, with the advantages of both therapy styles. On the other hand, patients could perhaps favor the original online MBCT intervention without supervision, but with additional features such as reminders and a virtual coach. Using a randomized controlled trial (RCT), both interventions will be tested on their efficacy in comparison to a conventional care.
 

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