Radiotherapy for localised prostate cancer has many known and distressing side effects. The efficacy of group interventions for reducing psychological morbidity is lacking. This study investigated the relative benefits of a group nurse-led intervention on psychological morbidity, unmet needs, treatment-related concerns and prostate cancer-specific quality of life in men receiving curative intent radiotherapy for prostate cancer.
This phase III, two-arm cluster randomised controlled trial included 331 men (consent rate: 72 %; attrition: 5 %) randomised to the intervention (n = 166) or usual care (n = 165). The intervention comprised four group and one individual consultation all delivered by specialist uro-oncology nurses. Primary outcomes were anxious and depressive symptoms as assessed by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Unmet needs were assessed with the Supportive Care Needs Survey-SF34 Revised, treatment-related concerns with the Cancer Treatment Scale and quality of life with the Expanded Prostate Cancer Index −26. Assessments occurred before, at the end of and 6 months post-radiotherapy. Primary outcome analysis was by intention-to-treat and performed by fitting a linear mixed model to each outcome separately using all observed data.
Mixed models analysis indicated that group consultations had a significant beneficial effect on one of two primary endpoints, depressive symptoms (p = 0.009), and one of twelve secondary endpoints, procedural concerns related to cancer treatment (p = 0.049). Group consultations did not have a significant beneficial effect on generalised anxiety, unmet needs and prostate cancer-specific quality of life.
Compared with individual consultations offered as part of usual care, the intervention provides a means of delivering patient education and is associated with modest reductions in depressive symptoms and procedural concerns. Future work should seek to confirm the clinical feasibility and cost-effectiveness of group interventions.