Internet-based guided self-help for parents of children on cancer treatment

We recently published a randomized controlled trial in the journal Psycho-Oncology. The aim of the study was to investigate the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of an Internet-based guided self-help intervention for posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and related symptoms in parents of children on cancer treatment.


Parents of children on cancer treatment, who fulfilled the modified symptom criteria on the PTSD Checklist, were randomly allocated to the intervention or to a wait-list control condition. The intervention group accessed a 10-week guided self-help program via the Internet based on principles from cognitve behavior therapy. The primary outcome PTSS and the secondary outcomes depression and anxiety were assessed by self-report preintervention and postintervention.


Seven hundred forty-seven parents were approached and informed about the study, 92 were assessed for eligibility, and 58 were included and randomized to the intervention (n = 31) or wait list (n = 27). Eightteen participants completed the intervention. Intention-to-treat analyses indicated a significant effect of the intervention on PTSS with a large between-group effect size at postassessment (Cohen’s d = 0.88). The intervention group reported reductions in PTSS with a large within-group effect size (d = 1.62) compared with a minimal reduction in the wait-list group (d = 0.09). There was a significant intervention effect on depression and anxiety and reductions in the intervention group with large within-group effect sizes (d = 0.85–1.09).


Findings indicate a low enrollment rate and considerable attrition but also that Internet-based guided self-help shows promise for parents of children on cancer treatment who report a high level of PTSS and would like to take part in an Internet-based intervention.

Read the full paper:

Cernvall, M., Carlbring, P., Ljungman, L., Ljungman, G., & von Essen, L. (2015).Internet-based guided self-help for parents of children on cancer treatment: a randomized controlled trial. Psychooncology, 24(9), 1152-1158. doi:10.1002/pon.3788