Guided online self-help for depression and cancer in adolescents (GOSH CAN)

Great Ormond Street Hospital

  • Run by Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust, in partnership with the Institute of Child Health, Macmillan Cancer Support, London Cancer, University College London Partners and University College Hospital London.
  • Focusing on adolescents with cancer and depression.
  • Will involve the development of a guided online self-help treatment package for depression.
  • Aiming to transform access to, and delivery of, mental health care whilst improving depression and quality of life for these patients.

Every year over 2,000 young people (aged 13 to 24 years) are diagnosed with cancer in the UK. These adolescents have an increased risk of depression following diagnosis, and throughout treatment and remission. However, depression often goes undiagnosed and evidence based treatments are rarely provided.

To improve the recognition and care of the mental health needs of adolescents with cancer, this project involves the development and use of a guided online self-help treatment package. There is evidence that guided self-help, including online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), is an effective low-intensity treatment for mild-to-moderate depression in adolescents.

The package will be delivered online over eight weeks and is based on CBT principles. Treatment includes education about depression; information about the links between thoughts, feelings and behaviour; guided problem-solving; and session-by-session outcome measures. Therapist guidance is provided via weekly telephone calls, texts, instant messages or email, according to patient preference.

The initiative will be implemented at the young people’s cancer service at University College London Hospitals/Great Ormond Street Hospital, which provides cancer care for adolescents. It will be delivered by a multidisciplinary group of frontline staff. The online platform allows for treatment of depression regardless of where the patient is, which is particularly appropriate for adolescents with cancer who are likely to either be in hospital or have a demanding schedule of medical appointments.

The project will enable vulnerable adolescents to have access to high-quality, evidence based psychological therapies that improve depression and quality of life. 

Contact details

For more information about this project, please contact Dr Anna Coughtrey, Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Research Coordinator at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust.

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