Depressive symptoms are common in cancer survivors; 15% or more of cancer patients, even 1
year after diagnosis, experience depressive symptoms that can have a negative impact on their
quality of life. Canadian care guidelines for cancer survivors recommend supporting the
active engagement of survivors in their self-care.
This study is an evaluation of the effect of a depression self-care program which includes a
self-care toolkit and support in the form of regular telephone calls from a self-care coach.
The toolkit contains tools that help cancer survivors:
1. Learn new information to better understand depression. This can help people feel that
they are not alone, and that their experience is not abnormal. Better understanding a
condition also helps people feel more confident in their communications with health care
professionals and can make it easier to share their experience with family and friends.
2. Learn and practice new coping skills. This can help people feel confident that they can
engage in the behaviours that have been shown to be beneficial for mood, e.g.
restructuring thoughts, problem solving, and planning pleasant activities.
People eligible for the study are aged 18 and over, 1-10 years post-diagnosis, have completed
primary cancer treatment (chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery) for any type of cancer,
and have moderate depressive symptoms (as measured by a Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9)
score of 8-19). Recruitment will be conducted at cancer care centres in Montreal and at the
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, and via community cancer support groups in Quebec
and Ontario. Each participant enrolled in the study will receive the self-care toolkit (half
will receive the toolkit and support calls at the start of the study, and half will receive
the toolkit at the end), and will be followed for 6 months.
This proposed self-care program is innovative in its approach to the treatment of depression
and has the potential to significantly improve the quality of life for Canadian cancer
survivors with persistent depressive symptoms. The results of the study will determine
whether the supported depression self-care program for cancer survivors is effective. The
program is designed to be sustainable and widely applicable as it involves minimal costs, and
the coaching can be delivered by telephone by volunteers in hospital and community settings.
Investigators will work with clinical stakeholders and patient representatives to ensure that
deliverables are relevant to the target population. Specific deliverables (in both French and
English) include: a toolkit with a manual describing its use; a manual detailing coaching
procedures; reports for decision makers and community cancer care groups; and short summaries
for stakeholder groups.