Regenstrief research scientist, Shelley Johns, PsyD, discusses the FACing FEAR study, which assists breast cancer survivors with fear of recurrence.
Our study is designed to really support breast cancer survivors in learning some adaptive coping skills to deal with their understandable fear. The fear is probably never going to go away because, you know, there’s always that sense of vulnerability after you’ve had a cancer diagnosis. But what we’re trying to do is we’re testing three different programs, all of which teach very different coping skills.
What survivors are learning. You know, in our study will depend on the group that they’re randomly assigned to. But all of the coping skills that we’re teaching have shown promise in past research. The other thing that we’re doing that’s really unique about this study is we’re also looking at the cost effectiveness of the three different programs because there might be one program that is really helpful, but if it’s too expensive for people to have and it’s not going to be as usable. And so we’re really trying to find workable strategies that are also cost effective.
Dr. Shelley Johns on fear of breast cancer recurrence in survivors
The reason why we’re focusing on breast cancer survivors is because fear of recurrence has been shown in the scientific literature to be a little bit more common among breast cancer survivors as compared to some of the other people who are survivors of other types of cancer.
And so, 40% of breast cancer survivors have been shown to have clinically significant levels of fear of recurrence, and by clinically significant, I mean where it’s interfering with their functioning, it’s interfering with their quality of life, it’s disrupting their sleep, it’s disrupting their relationships, it’s disrupting their sense of self. And so that’s why we’re really focusing on breast cancer survivors.
Dr. Shelley Johns discusses candidate recruitment for the FACing FEAR study.
For breast cancer survivors out there who are struggling with fear of recurrence, give us a call, because we still need another 100 women for our study. But I would also encourage people to rethink the avoidant coping, because a lot of times most of us try to cope with things by trying to ignore it or avoid it or just not thinking about it. And that really tends to not work very well. And so I would just encourage people to think about: Are there more adaptive ways that they can cope rather than trying to ignore or avoid something that’s clearly there and that we have good treatments for?