Using smart-messaging to enhance mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for cancer patients: A mixed methods proof of concept evaluation
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OBJECTIVE Depression and anxiety lead to reduced treatment adherence, poorer quality of life, and increased care costs amongst cancer patients. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is an effective treatment, but dropout reduces potential benefits. Smart-message reminders can prevent dropout and improve effectiveness. However, smart-messaging is untested for MBCT in cancer. This study evaluates smart-messaging to reduce dropout and improve effectiveness in MBCT for cancer patients with depression or anxiety. METHODS Fifty-one cancer patients attending MBCT in a psycho-oncology service were offered a smart-messaging intervention, which reminded them of prescribed between-session activities. Thirty patients accepted smart-messaging and 21 did not. Assessments of depression and anxiety were taken at baseline, session-by-session and one-month follow-up. Logistic regression and multilevel modelling compared the groups on treatment completion and clinical effectiveness. Fifteen post-treatment patient interviews explored smart-messaging use. RESULTS The odds of programme completion were eight times greater for patients using smart-messaging compared with non-users, controlling for age, gender, baseline depression, and baseline anxiety (OR = 7.79, 95% CI 1.75 to 34.58, p = .007). Smart-messaging users also reported greater improvement in depression over the programme (B = -2.33, SEB = .78, p = .004), when controlling for baseline severity, change over time, age, and number of sessions attended. There was no difference between groups in anxiety improvement (B = -1.46, SEB = .86, p = .097). In interviews, smart-messaging was described as a motivating reminder and source of personal connection. CONCLUSIONS Smart-messaging may be an easily integrated telehealth intervention to improve MBCT for cancer patients.