, Volume 21, Issue 12, pp 3451-3460
Date: 17 Aug 2013

You need something like this to give you guidelines on what to do”: patients' and partners' use and perceptions of a self-directed coping skills training resource

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This study aims to report on the acceptability of a self-directed coping skills intervention, called Coping-Together, for patients affected by cancer and their partners, including the strengths and limitations of the intervention design.


This initial version of Coping-Together included a series of four booklets, which aimed to provide practical coping strategies for the day-to-day management of common physical and psychosocial challenges. Thirty semi-structured interviews were conducted with 27 patients and/or 14 partners. Interviews were audiorecorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed for content.


Participants endorsed the self-directed format, and the focus of Coping-Together on practical information was a feature that set it apart from other resources. The majority of participants interviewed felt that the proposed coping strategies were “doable”; however, only half of the participants reported learning new coping skills after reading the booklets. Additional benefits of reading the booklets were increasing awareness of challenges to prepare for, giving hope that something can help you “pull through”, providing a sense of normality, connecting patients and partners to people and services, and complementing support received from health professionals. Despite the general acceptability of the intervention, some aspects of its design were criticized, including the workbook-like exercises, expectations about using the resource together, level of guidance provided, and amount of information included. In general, most participants felt that too much negative information was included, whereas more experiential information was desired.


Preliminary evaluation of Coping-Together supported its practical approach and highlighted improvements to enhance its contribution to patient and partner coping.