Australian behavioural research in cancer


Behavioural Research and Evaluation (BREU) and Tobacco Control Research and Evaluation (TCRE) South Australia

National Primary Schools SunSmart Survey
Cancer Council SA will soon commence a national survey of primary schools across Australia. Funded by Cancer Council Australia, the primary aim of the survey will be todetermine common sun protection policies and practices in primary schools across Australia and to examine the variation in these by factors such as SunSmart status, and over time. This will be the fourth round of the survey having previously been conducted in 1998, 2002 and 2005.

Tackling Smoking Education Program
The Tackling Smoking Evaluation program is currently evaluating the pilot phase of the Give up smokes for good social marketing campaign, which has been designed to reduce smoking prevalence among Aboriginal people in South Australia. The pilot phase of the campaign focused on the harms associated with tobacco use, and encouraged Aboriginal people to quit smoking and minimise the harm to others. The Social Research Centre will hold focus groups with Aboriginal people (18-39 years) to collect qualitative data regarding the reach and effectiveness of the campaign in the pilot areas: Port Lincoln, metro-north Adelaide and Port Augusta. Tobacco Control Research and Evaluation (TCRE) program will also administer 200 surveys within two of the pilot locations (Metro-northern Adelaide and Port Lincoln) to assess recall of the campaign and tobacco use.

Quit on evaluation
In 2010, QUIT SA launched a mobile phone text message based smoking cessation service called Quit onQ, which was developed by Cancer Council Victoria. The TCRE program, in collaboration with Cancer Council Victoria, are conducting an evaluation to assess the effectiveness of Quit onQ (only) and Quit onQ in combination with the Quitline proactive callback program, in comparison with the Quitline proactive callback program (only), Quit packs (only), and no intervention. The study will compare quit rates and changes in smoking behaviour across the types of support offered to smokers to determine effectiveness of the services at six weeks, six months and 12 months after their initial contact with the Quitline. Baseline data and six week follow up data have been collected, six month follow-up is currently in progress.

Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer (CBRC), Victoria

Monitoring changes in ultraviolet radiation levels in Australia: Implications for skin cancer control
It is estimated that nearly 450,000 Australians get skin cancer every year. Ultraviolet radiation (UV) from the sun has been identified as the cause of over 95% of skin cancers in Australia. Accordingly, the focus of skin cancer prevention programs over the past 30 years has been to reduce exposure to UV. Increases in UV have the potential to undermine the successes of these campaigns. Surface UV is dependent on the amount of ozone in the stratosphere. While signs of impact of international restrictions on the production of ozone-depleting substances have been observed, improvements have not yet returned ozone to pre-1970s levels. We collaborated with the Bureau of Meteorology to calculate clear sky UV over a 50-year period (1959-2009) for Australia, using two long-term ozone data sets derived from surface and satellite measurements, a radiation code and atmospheric meteorological fields.

The results showed increases in surface UV throughout Australia since the 1980s, with higher seasonal and annual averages occurring in more southerly latitudes than was previously the case. Increases were most pronounced during winter in the northern parts of Australia, when temperatures are more pleasant and people spend more time outdoors. In the south, increases in summer are more concerning, because this is when temperatures are warmer and sun exposure increases. Before the ozone layer recovers fully, it is expected that higher levels of UV will continue in most Australian regions, with an associated higher risk of skin cancer. This paper is in press in the International Journal of Biometeorology.

A web-based intervention to reduce distress and improve quality of life among younger women with breast cancer: A randomised control trial
Throughout 2010 and 2011, CBRC has been working on a randomised control trial testing the effectiveness of a web-based intervention addressing the information and supportive care needs of young women with breast cancer. The project led by Associate Professor Vicki White, has been funded by a grant from beyondblue: the national depression initiative, Cancer Australia and the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Based on input from consumers, the web-based intervention is designed around points of care and emotional responses to cancer. It provides information, existing resources and the contact details for organisations or services that can assist in each issue/area of need. The aim is to recruit 290 women aged under 50 and diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, with participants completing a baseline and two follow-up surveys over a six month period.

To date, 183 women have been recruited into the study with 97 assigned to the intervention group. Seventy-two per cent of women in the intervention group have accessed the website, with the most frequently viewed information being: managing long-term effects from treatment (55% of users); possible side effects of tamoxifen (49%); breast reconstruction information, fears of cancer returning and finding a new normal (45% each). Thus far, 109 women have completed their first follow-up survey with 154 completing the baseline survey. Recruitment will continue into early 2012.

Viertel Centre for Research in Cancer Control (VCRCC), Cancer Council Queensland

Beating the Blues After Cancer study
The aim of the Beating the Blues After Cancer study is to assess the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of accessible and affordable psychological interventions for distressed cancer patients and carers. By comparing two different support options, the study will determine the best possible way to help people affected by cancer. The study began in September 2009 and recruitment was completed on 3 August 2010, with 690 participants recruited from two Helplines randomly allocated to one of two support options – five tele-based sessions with a psychologist or one tele-based session with a nurse counsellor.

To date, over 540 participants have completed their intervention sessions and the three, six, and 12 month follow-up assessments, comprising of a short telephone interview and self-report survey. The 12 month data collection phase is scheduled for completion by October 2011. Data cleaning of the follow-up assessment data is ongoing, with a view to be available for analysis early 2012.

Living with Prostate Cancer Study
The latest study in the Prostate Cancer Research Program is the Living with Prostate Cancer Study, which is trialing a new support program for men recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. Unmet supportive care needs are highly prevalent in men with prostate cancer, and the difficulties associated with diagnosis and treatment is amplified by lifestyle factors such as obesity and physical inactivity. The two-armed randomised control trial will evaluate the effectiveness of a multimodal supportive care intervention,1 compared to usual care, in reducing unmet supportive care needs, promoting regular physical activity, and improving overall wellness in men recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. The supportive care intervention consists of self-management resources and information, both print and web-based, as well as tele-based group peer support.

Men will be assessed at baseline, and at three, six and 12 months after recruitment and intervention commencement, to measure unmet supportive care needs, physical activity levels, psychological distress and quality of life. An economic evaluation will also be conducted to assess the cost-effectiveness of the intervention. The study will produce recommendations about: the efficacy of self-management and group peer support in reducing unmet supportive care needs and promoting overall wellness for prostate cancer survivors; the cost-effectiveness of these strategies; and an evidence-based supportive care intervention for men with prostate cancer that can be rapidly translated into the community. Recruitment is expected to commence in mid-2011.

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