BACKGROUND: Adolescent and young adult cancer survivors (AYAs) experience clinically significant distress and have limited access to supportive care services. Interventions to enhance psychological well-being have improved positive affect and reduced depression in clinical and healthy populations but have not been routinely tested in AYAs.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this protocol is to (1) test the feasibility and acceptability of a Web-based positive emotion skills intervention for posttreatment AYAs called Enhancing Management of Psychological Outcomes With Emotion Regulation (EMPOWER) and (2) examine proof of concept for reducing psychological distress and enhancing psychological well-being.

METHODS: The intervention development and testing are taking place in 3 phases. In phase 1, we adapted the content of an existing, Web-based positive emotion intervention so that it would be suitable for AYAs. EMPOWER targets 8 skills (noticing positive events, capitalizing, gratitude, mindfulness, positive reappraisal, goal setting, personal strengths, and acts of kindness) and is delivered remotely as a 5-week, Web-based intervention. Phase 2 consisted of a pilot test of EMPOWER in a single-arm trial to evaluate feasibility, acceptability, retention, and adherence and to collect data on psychosocial outcomes for proof of concept. In phase 3, we are refining study procedures and conducting a second pilot test.

RESULTS: The project was part of a career development award. Pilot work began in June 2015, and data collection was completed in March 2019. The analysis is ongoing, and results will be submitted for publication by May 2020.

CONCLUSIONS: If this intervention proves feasible and acceptable, EMPOWER will be primed for a subsequent large, multisite randomized controlled trial. As a scalable intervention, it will be ideally suited for AYA survivors who would otherwise not have access to supportive care interventions to help manage posttreatment distress and enhance well-being.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02832154, https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02832154.


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Notes/Citation Information

Published in JMIR Research Protocols, v. 9, issue 5, 17078, p. 1-12.

© John M Salsman, Laurie E McLouth, Michael Cohn, Janet A Tooze, Mia Sorkin, Judith T Moskowitz. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (http://www.researchprotocols.org), 28.05.2020.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Research Protocols, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.researchprotocols.org, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

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Funding Information

The research reported in this publication was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the NIH under award number K07CA158008 (PI: JS). LM was supported by NCI R25 CA122061 (PI: Nancy Avis).

17078-340378-1-SP.docx (13 kB)
Appendix 1: Study timeline

17078-340395-1-SP.pdf (134 kB)
Appendix 2: Peer-reviewer report from NIH