Behavioural Research and Evaluation (BREU), South Australia

Investigating iHOPE: An online peer-led program for cancer survivors

With the rising number of people surviving and living with cancer, the need for post-treatment support options is increasing. We conducted a literature review that revealed a burgeoning body of research regarding promising psychosocial and positive psychology interventions designed to help people cope with the detrimental biopsychosocial effects of chronic disease. Some of these interventions have been developed into online programs, but there is little information about their uptake in the community.  

One example related to cancer is the iHOPE program (Help to Overcome Problems Effectively). iHOPE is an online, group-based, peer-led, positive psychology support program that aims to provide participants with the knowledge and confidence to cope with surviving cancer. iHOPE is an online version of the HOPE program, a face-to-face version used by Macmillan Cancer Support in the UK. Pilot tests of iHOPE in the UK appear promising (i.e. it is reportedly effective, relevant, engaging, and easy to use), however the feasibility of using iHOPE with an Australian population has yet to be tested.

Consequently, Cancer Council SA is undertaking a project to collect feedback from potential Australian users of iHOPE, to determine if the program is relevant, engaging, and easy to use. The study involves conducting interviews (approximately 30-45 minutes) to seek feedback on iHOPE’s main activities (i.e. grateful expression and goal setting) and the peer-led and interactive nature of the course. To date, four semi-structured interviews have been conducted with cancer survivors who were not currently in active treatment. Findings will be disseminated in due course.

National Primary Schools SunSmart survey

Primary schools provide suitable grounds for implementing policy development as a skin cancer control strategy. In addition, policy can assist in creating sustainable change for sun protective environments in primary schools. Cancer Councils nationally recognise the importance of policy development to promote healthy sun protection policies and practice in primary schools and encourages schools to become members of the National SunSmart School Program. This program awards recognition to primary Schools that meet SunSmart recommendations in both practice and policy.

As part of providing ongoing monitoring of primary school sun protection practices and policies, as well as to monitor the impact that the SunSmart program has on these practices, Cancer Council SA works with the national schools and early childhood centres working group to conduct the National Primary Schools SunSmart Survey across Australia.

Funded by Cancer Council Australia with in-kind contribution provided by the Behavioural Research and Evaluation Unit, this survey is conducted on behalf of all state and territory Cancer Councils. The primary aim of the survey is to determine 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 fifth round of the survey having previously been conducted in 1998, 2002, 2005 and 2011. Data collection has recently commenced, with data analysis and reporting to occur in the first half of next year. Key areas of focus in the survey includes policy development, regulation of hat wearing, shade provision, sunscreen provision, scheduling of outdoor activities, incorporation of sun protection into the curriculum and school’s SunSmart status.

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