Promise unfulfilled: Implementing web-based psychological therapy in routine cancer care, a qualitative study of oncology health professionals’ attitudes

Fiona Davies, Marnie Harris, Heather L. Shepherd, Phyllis Butow, Lisa Beatty, Emma Kemp, Joanne Shaw

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Background: Web-based mental health interventions (e-MhIs) show promise for increasing accessibility and acceptability of therapy for cancer patients. Aim: This study aimed to elicit health professionals' (HPs) views on optimal models for including e-MhIs within standard cancer care. Materials & Method: Cancer HPs who worked in a service where an e-MhI was available to patients, and multi-disciplinary HPs interested in supportive care, were invited to participate via email. In semi-structured phone interviews, participants' views on e-MhIs were elicited. They were then presented with five model vignettes varying in local and centralised staff input, and asked to indicate their preference and views on each. A thematic analysis was applied to the data. Results: Twelve nurses, nine psychologists, seven social workers, and three oncologists participated. Four key themes were identified: looking after patients, relationships and multidisciplinary care, trust, and feasibility, all contributing to a meta-theme of tension. Participants were motivated to ensure optimal patient outcomes and thus needed to trust the intervention content and process. They believed personal relationships increased patient engagement while affording greater work satisfaction for HPs. Most participants preferred a fully integrated model of care involving local HP assessment and design of a tailored therapy incorporating some e-MhI components where appropriate, but recognised this gold standard was likely not feasible given current resources. Discussion and Conclusion: Co-design with local staff of optimal models of care for the content and process of implementing e-MhIs is required, with due consideration of the patient group, staffing levels, local workflows and HP preferences, to ensure sustainability and optimal patient outcomes. Clinical Trial Registration: The ADAPT Cluster RCT is registered with the ANZCTR Registration number: ACTRN12617000411347.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1127-1135
Number of pages9
Issue number7
Early online date7 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • cancer
  • cancer care professionals
  • implementation
  • models of care
  • oncology
  • routine care
  • web-based psychological therapy


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