Using smart‐messaging to enhance mindfulness‐based cognitive therapy for cancer patients: A mixed methods proof of concept evaluation

Wells, Chloe; Malins, Sam; Clarke, Simon; Skorodzien, Iwona; Biswas, Sanchia; Sweeney, Tim; Moghaddam, Nima and Levene, Jo (2020). Using smart‐messaging to enhance mindfulness‐based cognitive therapy for cancer patients: A mixed methods proof of concept evaluation. Psycho-Oncology, 29(1) pp. 212–219.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/pon.5256

Abstract

Objective
Depression and anxiety lead to reduced treatment adherence, poorer quality of life, and increased care costs amongst cancer patients. Mindfulness‐based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is an effective treatment, but dropout reduces potential benefits. Smart‐message reminders can prevent dropout and improve effectiveness. However, smart‐messaging is untested for MBCT in cancer. This study evaluates smart‐messaging to reduce dropout and improve effectiveness in MBCT for cancer patients with depression or anxiety.

Methods

Fifty‐one cancer patients attending MBCT in a psycho‐oncology service were offered a smart‐messaging intervention, which reminded them of prescribed between‐session activities. Thirty patients accepted smart‐messaging and 21 did not. Assessments of depression and anxiety were taken at baseline, session‐by‐session, and one‐month follow‐up. Logistic regression and multilevel modelling compared the groups on treatment completion and clinical effectiveness. Fifteen post‐treatment patient interviews explored smart‐messaging use.

Results
The odds of programme completion were eight times greater for patients using smart‐messaging compared with non‐users, controlling for age, gender, baseline depression, and baseline anxiety (OR = 7.79, 95% CI 1.75 to 34.58, p = .007). Smart‐messaging users also reported greater improvement in depression over the programme (B = ‐2.33, SEB = .78, p = .004) when controlling for baseline severity, change over time, age, and number of sessions attended. There was no difference between groups in anxiety improvement (B = ‐1.46, SEB = .86, p = .097). In interviews, smart‐messaging was described as a motivating reminder and source of personal connection.

Conclusions
Smart‐messaging may be an easily integrated telehealth intervention to improve MBCT for cancer patients.

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