Mini-AFTERc: a controlled pilot trial of a nurse-led psychological intervention for fear of breast cancer recurrence

Calum Thomas McHale, Susanne Cruickshank, Tamara Brown, Claire Torrens, Jo Armes, Deborah Fenlon, Elspeth Banks, Tom Kelsey, Gerald Michael Humphris*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Objectives  To determine the feasibility and acceptability of implementing the Mini-AFTERc intervention.

Design  Non-randomised cluster-controlled pilot trial.

Setting  Four NHS out-patient breast cancer centres in Scotland.

Participants  Ninety-two women who had successfully completed primary treatment for breast cancer were screened for moderate levels of fear of cancer recurrence (FCR). Forty-five were eligible (17 intervention and 28 control) and 34 completed 3-month follow-up (15 intervention and 21 control).

Intervention  Mini-AFTERc, a single brief (30 min) structured telephone discussion with a specialist breast cancer nurse (SBCN) trained to target the antecedents of FCR.

Outcomes  Feasibility and acceptability of Mini-AFTERc and the study design were assessed via recruitment, consent, retention rates, patient outcomes (measured at baseline, 2, 4, and 12 weeks), and post-study interviews with participants and SBCNs, which were guided by Normalisation Process Theory.

Results  Mini-AFTERc was acceptable to patients and SBCNs. SBCNs believe the implementation of Mini-AFTERc to be feasible and an extension of discussions that already happen routinely. SBCNs believe delivery, however, at the scale required would be challenging given current competing demands for their time. Recruitment was impacted by variability in the follow-up practices of cancer centres and COVID-19 lockdown. Consent and follow-up procedures worked well, and retention rates were high.

Conclusions  The study provided invaluable information about the potential challenges and solutions for testing the Mini-AFTERc intervention more widely where limiting high FCR levels is an important goal following recovery from primary breast cancer treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Number of pages16
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2024


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