Helping cancer patients find their way

Helping cancer patients find their way

August 2013

Southern Health News

by Sarah Garvis

A new online self-help program could provide better coping strategies for recently-diagnosed cancer patients to help reduce the stress associated with cancer.

The website, called Finding My Way, has been developed by Dr Lisa Beatty and Professor Bogda Koczwara from the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer (FCIC) and Flinders University School of Psychology, under a three-year grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council.

A team of 15 researchers will soon be undertaking a study to test the effectiveness of the website in 200 cancer patients at sites in South Australia, Queensland, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory.

Dr Lisa Beatty, Psychologist in the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer and Research Fellow in the Flinders University School of Psychology

Lead researcher Dr Beatty said trial participants would be able to log onto the website and complete a series of six modules over a six-week period.

The six modules address three different phases of the cancer journey including:

>         Diagnosis, decision making, interacting with the medical treatment team

>         Treatment, the physical, social and emotional impacts, as well as changes to body image and identity

>         Recovery, transitioning into survivorship.

“We are trialling two different versions of the website to see which one works best for the patients,” Dr Beatty said.

“The first version is an information resource, while the second contains additional self-help activities, including worksheets, activities, quizzes, and meditation and relaxation exercises.

“Both versions contain video testimonials and educational videos from healthcare professionals.”

She said the website would initially be aimed at those people who have been diagnosed with curable cancers – most commonly prostate, breast, bowel, lymph and testicular cancers.

“From diagnosis there is a lot of information cancer patients need to know and it can be quite overwhelming for them and their families, so we’re hoping this resource will help to answer some of their questions and reduce the stress of cancer.

“It will be a resource that is freely available and easily accessible from the comfort and privacy of the patient’s home.

“It may also reduce the need for patients to travel long distances for information, particularly for rural patients.”

Depending on the results of the study, Dr Beatty said the website could be adapted for those diagnosed with advanced cancer and those who are adjusting to life after completing treatment.

The website will be available at you are interested in participating in the trial, please contact Dr Beatty on (08) 8204 2506 or email

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