Treatment for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) often confers considerable functional impairment. As a result, HNSCC patients experience significant decrements in quality of life, high levels of emotional distress, deteriorations in interpersonal relations, and increased social isolation. Studies suggest that psychoeducational interventions can improve quality of life, reduce distress, and enhance coping with cancer in various cancer populations. However, few intervention programs have been developed for HNSCC patients. As such, the development of appropriate psychoeducational interventions for HNSCC patients would address a significant need in this patient population. However, due to the effects of cancer and cancer treatment on facial appearance and speaking ability, psychoeducational interventions that are delivered in-person may be less appealing to some HNSCC patients who may be reluctant or unwilling to engage in social interactions due to social anxiety or feeling stigmatized. Group settings and face-to-face interactions can contribute to high levels of social anxiety among HNSCC patients, particularly those who experience problems with speaking. Hence, web-based multimedia interventions may represent an appealing option for delivering key information to this population in an efficacious, practical and acceptable format. Therefore, the goal of the proposed Phase I project is to develop a prototype web-based multimedia intervention for HNSCC patients.
The specific aims of the project are to: 1) Develop a prototype web-based multimedia program that incorporates information in four topic areas, including: Head and Neck Cancer and its Treatment;Potential Changes in Swallowing and Oral Care;Potential Changes in Speech;and Coping with Cancer;and 2) Evaluate acceptability and satisfaction with the prototype web-based program among 45 HNSCC patients and 5 healthcare professionals. If successful, a revised and complete prototype will be created in Phase II, and the effectiveness of this web-based intervention in enhancing quality of life will then be evaluated. The proposed project addresses a significant need in an understudied cancer patient population that suffers considerable impairment in psychosocial and physical functioning. Findings from the proposed Phase I project will be used as preliminary data for a Phase II application to conduct a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the efficacy of the web-based intervention in improving quality of life and psychological adjustment among HNSCC patients.

Public Health Relevance

Although there is evidence that psychoeducational interventions can improve quality of life, reduce psychological distress, and enhance coping with cancer in various cancer populations, few studies have developed and evaluated such interventions for head and neck cancer patients. The development of a web-based psychoeducational intervention for HNSCC patients has several strengths, including: 1) a multimedia presentation format that can be administered at home, thereby making it more feasible to implement and more acceptable to patients;and 2) the relatively high dissemination potential of such an intervention. A long-term goal of the proposed project is to evaluate the effectiveness of this web-based intervention in enhancing quality of life and psychological adjustment among head and neck cancer patients.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Grants - Phase I (R41)
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Weber, Patricia A
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Triad Interactive, Inc.
United States
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