Publication date: Aug 10, 2022
Fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) is a significant unmet need amongst cancer survivors and is consistently associated with psychological distress and impaired quality of life. Psychological interventions for FCR, such as ConquerFear, have demonstrated efficacy in reducing FCR and improving emotional wellbeing. Unfortunately, there are barriers to the uptake of evidence-based FCR treatments in clinical practice. A stepped-care FCR treatment model may overcome these barriers and has demonstrated potential in people with advanced melanoma. This study aims to evaluate the acceptability, feasibility, and impact of a stepped-care FCR treatment model (Fear-Less) in people with other cancer types, who have completed treatment with curative intent. Sixty people with early-stage cancer (defined as individuals who have received treatment with curative intent and with no metastatic disease) will be screened for FCR using the Fear of Cancer Recurrence Inventory-Short Form (FCRI-SF). Individuals reporting moderate FCR (FCRI-SF between 13 and 21) will be offered a clinician-guided self-management resource; those reporting high FCR (FCRI-SF ≥ 22) will be offered individual therapy according to the ConquerFear protocol. Participants will complete purpose-built evaluation surveys assessing their FCR screening and intervention experiences. Clinicians will also complete a survey regarding their experiences of the treatment model. Fear-Less will be evaluated in terms of (1) acceptability (i. e., patient and clinician experience), (2) feasibility (i. e., referral uptake, treatment adherence, and time taken to screen and deliver interventions), and (3) impact (i. e., pre- to post-intervention FCR changes). The Fear-Less stepped-care model is a novel framework for screening FCR and stratifying survivors to the appropriate level of treatment. Our study will provide an indication of whether Fear-Less is a feasible and acceptable FCR model of care amongst survivors with early-stage disease and inform further investigations of this model. Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR); ACTRN12622000818730 .