Psychoeducational Intervention Effective for Reducing Fear of Melanoma Recurrence

A newly developed, evidence-based psychoeducational intervention effectively reduced fear of cancer recurrence and stress in patients at high risk for developing another melanoma, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.1

Despite the high frequency of patients with a history of melanoma reporting fear of disease recurrence, psychological support is not routinely provided as part of survivorship care. Therefore, researchers sought to assess the impact of a psychoeducational intervention vs usual care on fear of recurrence and psychological adjustment in survivors of melanoma.

For the study, investigators enrolled 160 patients and randomly assigned them to receive the psychoeducational intervention or usual care. The intervention consisted of 3 telephone-based psychotherapeutic sessions over a 1-month period of time in accordance with dermatologic follow-up appointments. Researchers assessed patients at baseline, 1 month, and 6 months after dermatologic appointments.

At 6 months, results showed that patients in the intervention arm reported lower fear of cancer recurrence severity (P =.002), trigger (P =.003), and distress scores (P =.03) compared with those in the usual care arm.

After adjusting for confounding factors, researchers found that the intervention arm was significantly associated with a reduction in fear of cancer recurrence severity vs the control arm (P =.04).

The study further demonstrated that patients in the intervention group reported lower stress (P =.03) and improved melanoma-related knowledge (P <.001) at 6 months compared with those who received usual care.

Researchers observed no significant differences in anxiety, depression, health behaviors, satisfaction with melanoma care, unmet needs, or health-related quality of life between the 2 groups.


1. Dieng M, Butow PN, Costa DS, et al. Psychoeducational intervention to reduce fear of cancer recurrence in people at high risk of developing another primary melanoma: results of a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Oncol. 2016 Oct 10. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2016.68.2278. [Epub ahead of print]

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