Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Trials and BioMed Central.

Open Access Methodology

Advancing the evidence base in cancer: psychosocial multicenter trials

Robert Sanson-Fisher12, Lisa Mackenzie12, Phyllis Butow3, Nicole Rankin3 and Christine Paul124*

Author Affiliations

1 The University of Newcastle, University Drive, Callaghan, NSW, 2308, Australia

2 Hunter Medical Research Institute, Newcastle, Australia

3 The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, 2006, Australia

4 School of Medicine and Public Health, Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle, University Drive, Callaghan, NSW, 2308, Australia

For all author emails, please log on.

Trials 2012, 13:171  doi:10.1186/1745-6215-13-171

Published: 19 September 2012

Abstract

Background

The diagnosis and treatment of cancer is associated with significant distress and psychosocial morbidity. Although psychosocial interventions have been developed in an attempt to improve psychosocial outcomes in cancer patients and survivors, there is continued debate about whether there is adequate high-level evidence to establish the effectiveness of these interventions. The evidence base is limited as a result of numerous challenges faced by those attempting to conduct psychosocial intervention trials within the health system. Barriers include insufficient participant recruitment, difficulty generalizing from single-trial studies, difficulty in building and managing research teams with multidisciplinary expertise, lack of research design expertise and a lack of incentives for researchers conducting intervention research. To strengthen the evidence base, more intervention studies employing methodologically rigorous research designs are necessary.

Methods

In order to advance the evidence base of interventions designed to improve psychosocial outcomes for cancer patients and survivors, we propose the formation of a collaborative trials group that conducts multicenter trials to test the effectiveness of such interventions.

Results

Establishment of such a group would improve the quality of the evidence base in psychosocial research in cancer patients, by increasing support for conducting intervention research and providing intervention research training opportunities. A multidisciplinary collaborative group conducting multicenter trials would have the capacity to overcome many of the barriers that currently exist.

Conclusions

A stronger evidence base is necessary to identify effective psychosocial interventions for cancer patients. The proposed formation of a psycho-oncology collaborative trials group that conducts multicenter trials to test the effectiveness of psychosocial interventions would assist in achieving this outcome.

Keywords:
Cancer; Oncology; Multicenter trials; Psychosocial aspects; Intervention studies