Online interventions aimed at reducing psychological distress in cancer patients: Evidence update and suggestions for future directions

Roy A. Willems*, Catherine A.W. Bolman, Lilian Lechner, Ilse Mesters, Kate M. Gunn, Xiomara Skrabal Ross, Ian Olver

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose of review: A great proportion of people affected by cancer experience psychological distress. To reduce pressure on limited health-management resources available, evidence-based eHealth or online interventions can fill an important gap by making psychosocial care more easily accessible. However, evidence of their effectiveness is mixed. This present review provides an update on the effectiveness of online interventions in reducing psychological distress in patients with cancer by including studies published from January 2018 to September 2019.

Recent findings: Thirty-three publications describing online interventions were included in the review, including web-based, blended care, telehealth, mHealth, and other online interventions. There was great heterogeneity across studies. The evidence of online interventions’ effectiveness in reducing distress was mixed; there was partial support for reduction in psychological distress and depression, but limited evidence for reducing anxiety. Some important limitations should be taken into account when interpreting the results.

Summary: Online interventions for people affected by cancer, in general, are well received and seem to be a necessary component of comprehensive cancer care. However, these interventions should be more rigorously tested to provide more conclusive evidence about their effectiveness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-39
Number of pages13
JournalCurrent opinion in supportive and palliative care
Issue number1
Early online date14 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


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