People with a history of melanoma commonly report a fear of cancer recurrence (FCR), yet psychologic support is not routinely offered as part of ongoing melanoma care. This randomized controlled trial examined the efficacy of a psychoeducational intervention to reduce FCR and improve psychologic adjustment in this patient group compared with usual care.
The intervention comprised a newly developed psychoeducational resource and three telephone-based psychotherapeutic sessions over a 1-month period timed in accordance with dermatologic appointments. Participants were randomly assigned to intervention (n = 80) or usual care (n = 84). Assessments were completed at baseline, 1 month, and 6 months after dermatologic appointments. Linear mixed models were used to examine differences between treatment and control groups for patient-reported outcomes, including FCR, anxiety, stress, depression, melanoma-related knowledge, health behaviors, satisfaction with melanoma care, unmet needs, and health-related quality of life.
At 6 months, the intervention group reported lower FCR severity, trigger, and distress scores than the control group in the baseline-adjusted models; the between-group mean difference was −1.9 for FCR severity (95% CI, −3.1 to −0.7; P = .002), −2.0 for FCR triggers (95% CI, −3.3 to −0.7; P = .003), and −0.7 for FCR distress (95% CI, −1.3 to −0.1; P = .03). The decrease in FCR severity (but not triggers or distress) remained statistically significant after adjustment for other covariates (P = .04). At 6 months, the intervention group also reported lower stress (−1.6; 95% CI, −3.1 to −0.2; P = .03) and improved melanoma-related knowledge (1.7; 95% CI, 0.8 to 2.6; P < .001) compared with the control group. No differences were found between groups for other secondary outcomes.
This newly developed evidence-based psychoeducational intervention was effective in reducing FCR and stress and increasing melanoma-related knowledge in people at high risk for another melanoma.