The novel psychosocial intervention, ConquerFear, improved fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) for at least 6 months compared with Taking-it-Easy relaxation therapy, results of a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has shown.
Only a few studies have evaluated an effective means of intervention for fear of recurrence, even though it occurs in 50% to 70% of cancer survivors and leads to poor outcomes and increased healthcare costs.
For this study, researchers randomly assigned 222 cancer survivors to the ConquerFear or Taking-it-Easy interventions. ConquerFear is empirically developed from various models of cognitive therapy such as the Common-Sense model of illness, the Self-Regulatory Executive Function model, and Relational Frame Theory. Taking-it-Easy is based on models that promote relaxation. Patients completed questionnaires at baseline (T0) prior to randomization, at the end of treatment (T1), and at 3 months (T2) and 6 months (T3) later.
Compared with Taking-it-Easy, ConquerFear led to statistically and clinically significant improvements among study participants for total FCR Inventory scores from T0 to T1 (P <.001), and the improvements were maintained at T2 (P =.017) and T3 (P =.018). FCR Inventory severity subscale scores were also improved from T0 to T1 (P =.001), but these improvements were maintained only until T2 (P =0.23).
Patients assigned to the ConquerFear arm also experienced significant improvements from T0 to T1 for coping, psychological distress, anxiety, cancer-specific distress, triggers, mental quality of life, and metacognition. By T3, only psychological distress and cancer-specific distress remained significantly different.
Although results of the study demonstrate that ConquerFear led to a significant and lasting improvement in fear of recurrence for patients, the authors added “[a]dditional research is needed to optimize tailoring of FCR interventions to those with different needs and FCR levels.”
Butow PN, Turner J, Gilchrist J, et al. Randomized trial of ConquerFear: a novel, theoretically based psychosocial intervention for fear of cancer recurrence [published online November 2, 2017]. J Clin Oncol. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2017.73.1257