Last updated on September 2018

Effects of Digital Stories Intervention on Psychosocial Well-being


Brief description of study

Patients and caregivers undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation often continue to experience anxiety, depression, isolation, and other psychosocial distress. A narrative-based digital stories intervention has shown promise in a pilot study with breast cancer patients in helping to alleviate emotional distress. This study is designed to test digital stories to be viewed and discussed by other HCT patients/caregivers as a psychosocial intervention in a randomized controlled trial and to test the effects of digital stories on how 110 patient and caregiver dyads (N=220) undergoing one of the most rigorous and aggressive treatments cope with treatment-related distress through supportive open dyadic communication and emotional expression.

Detailed Study Description

Patients and caregivers undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT) are at particular risk for reduced psychological and social well-being due to the rigorous and unique nature of the transplant experience, such as prolonged immunosuppression and multiple post HCT complications resulting in frequent hospitalizations. However, few studies have evaluated interventions to alleviate psychosocial distress for both patients and caregivers, and those have yielded inconclusive results. A narrative-based (storytelling) approach may be an effective intervention tool for HCT patients and caregivers coping with psychosocial distress. The preliminary data show that stories shared by individuals in which a range of emotional expression or resolutions are described, may have beneficial effects on emotional well-being. In a recent pilot study of a 3-day digital storytelling workshop, investigators produced a series of digital videos with narratives from a panel of post-HCT patients. The purpose of this study is to use these digital stories (DS), to be viewed and discussed by HCT patient/caregiver dyads, as a therapeutic intervention and to examine influences on both patients' and caregivers' psychosocial status. This cost-effective, non-invasive, and easy-to-deliver psychosocial support vehicle has never been formally tested as an intervention for HCT patients or patient-caregiver dyads.

To build upon investigators' preliminary studies and to pilot test the efficacy of this series of DS, 110 adult patients undergoing HCT at the Mayo Clinic Arizona and patient respective adult caregivers (N=220 total participants) will be randomized to either (a) an intervention using DS (dyadic exposure to four 5-minute modules) or (b) an information control (IC) video group (dyadic exposure to four videos containing only information about post-HCT care) followed by encouragement to discuss as a dyad. Exposure will occur once per week over 4 weeks via a secure web-based data collection platform (REDcap) with a weekly email notification and reminder phone call. Using investigator's model of Narrative Effects on Socio-Emotional Well-Being, we will also examine expected mediating factors to determine how stories may "work" to reduce psychosocial distress by fostering emotional processing, acceptance, and dyadic disclosure of emotions.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT03654599

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Nandita Khera, M.D

Mayo Clinic
Phoenix, AZ United States
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