• Evaluating process and effectiveness of a low-intensity CBT intervention for women with gynaecological cancer (the EPELIT Trial)

      Hulbert-Williams, Nicholas J.; Hulbert-Williams, Lee; Flynn, Ryan J.; Pendrous, Rosina; MacDonald-Smith, Carey; Mullard, Anna; Swash, Brooke; Evans, Gemma; Price, Annabel; University of Chester; North Wales Cancer Treatment Centre; Ysbyty Gwynedd; Addenbrooke's Hospital Cambridge
      Background: Improving survival from gynaecological cancers is creating an increasing clinical challenge for long-term distress management. Psychologist-led interventions for cancer survivors can be beneficial, but are often costly. The rise of the Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP) workforce in the UK might offer a cheaper, but equally effective, intervention delivery method that is more sustainable and accessible. We aimed to test the effectiveness of a PWP co-facilitated intervention for reducing depression and anxiety, quality of life and unmet needs. Methods: We planned this trial using a pragmatic, non-randomised controlled design, recruiting a comparator sample from a second clinical site. The intervention was delivered over six-weekly sessions; data were collected from participants at baseline, weekly during the intervention, and at one-week and three-month follow-up. Logistical challenges meant that we only recruited 8 participants to the intervention group, and 26 participants to the control group. Results: We did not find significant, between-group differences for depression, quality of life or unmet needs, though some differences at follow-up were found for anxiety (p<.001). Analysis of potential intervention mediator processes indicated the potential importance of self-management self-efficacy. Low uptake into the psychological intervention raises questions about (a) patient- driven needs for group-based support, and (b) the sustainability of this intervention programme. Conclusions: This study failed to recruit to target; the under-powered analysis likely explains the lack of significant effects reported, though some trends in the data are of interest. Retention in the intervention group, and low attrition in the control group indicate acceptability of the intervention content and trial design; however a small baseline population rendered this trial infeasible in its current design. Further work is required to answer our research questions, but also, importantly, to address low uptake for psychological interventions in this group of cancer survivors.
    • Universal BRCA1/BRCA2 testing for ovarian cancer patients is welcomed, but with care: How women and staff contextualise experiences of expanded access

      Shipman, Hannah; Flynn, Samantha; MacDonald-Smith, Carey; Brenton, James; Crawford, Robin; Tischkowitz, Marc; Hulbert-Williams, Nicholas J. (2017-05-24)
      Decreasing costs of genetic testing and advances in treatment for women with cancer with germline BRCA1/BRCA2 mutations have heralded more inclusive genetic testing programs. The Genetic Testing in Epithelial Ovarian Cancer (GTEOC) Study, investigates the feasibility and acceptability of offering genetic testing to all women recently diagnosed with epithelial ovarian cancer (universal genetic testing or UGT). Study participants and staff were interviewed to: (i) assess the impact of UGT (ii) integrate patients’ and staff perspectives in the development of new UGT programs. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with twelve GTEOC Study participants and five members of staff involved in recruiting them. The transcripts were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. There are two super-ordinate themes: motivations and influences around offers of genetic testing and impacts of genetic testing in ovarian cancer patients. A major finding is that genetic testing is contextualized within the broader experiences of the women; the impact of UGT was minimized in comparison with the ovarian cancer diagnosis. Women who consent to UGT are motivated by altruism and by their relatives’ influence, whilst those who decline are often considered overwhelmed or fearful. Those without a genetic mutation are usually reassured by this result, whilst those with a genetic mutation must negotiate new uncertainties and responsibilities towards their families. Our findings suggest that UGT in this context is generally acceptable to women. However, the period shortly after diagnosis is a sensitive time and some women are emotionally overburdened. UGT is considered a ‘family affair’ and staff must acknowledge this.