The development and process evaluation of PEER: a camp-based programme for adolescents impacted by cancer

Pandora Patterson, Fiona E. J. McDonald*, Elizabeth Kelly-Dalgety, Aileen Luo, Kimberley R. Allison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Adolescents impacted by their own or a relative’s cancer diagnosis experience significant psychosocial needs. Residential programmes provide opportunities to address these, yet limited evaluation research and unclear reporting of therapeutic and theoretical underpinnings complicate efforts to understand programme effects. This paper reports the development and process evaluation of PEER, a four-day programme with psychosocial (acceptance and commitment therapy, self-compassion) and recreational components for adolescents impacted by their own or a parent/sibling’s cancer. Staff (N = 51) and adolescents (N = 148, 12–17 years) who attended a PEER programme participated in this evaluation. The evaluation of fidelity included measures of facilitators’ confidence to deliver content, adherence to the programme manual, quality of programme delivery, participants’ engagement, and overall satisfaction. The process evaluation included assessment of quality of life, distress, and process variables (psychological flexibility, mindfulness, self-compassion) at pre-programme, post-programme, and two-month follow-up, as well as qualitative feedback from participants and facilitators. Moderation analyses identified predictors of clinically significant improvement in psychosocial outcomes. The programme was delivered with good fidelity, and participants reported high satisfaction and engagement. Approximately 15–20% of participants experienced clinically-meaningful improvements in distress and quality of life; those who reported higher distress and lower baseline psychological flexibility, mindfulness and self-kindness experienced greater improvements. Qualitative feedback additionally evidenced the value of peer connection and support. The evaluation evidences PEER’s feasibility, acceptability and value for adolescents impacted by cancer, particularly those experiencing greater distress. Its success indicates the potential of the therapeutic approaches used, and for community organisations to develop interventions complementing services offered by healthcare systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2627–2640
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • acceptance and commitment therapy
  • adolescents
  • programme evaluation
  • psycho-oncology
  • self-compassion


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