Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 445–454 | Cite as

The development of novel interventions to assist the leaders of cancer support groups

  • Rachel D. Zordan
  • Phyllis N. ButowEmail author
  • Laura Kirsten
  • Ilona Juraskova
  • Amanda O’Reilly
  • John Friedsam
  • Nataly Bovopolous
  • Paul Heinrich
  • Margaret Charles
  • Kim Hobbs
  • David Kissane
Original Article



The literature on cancer support groups supports the provision of ongoing education and training for cancer support group leaders, with evidence suggesting that more skilled and experienced leaders create better outcomes for group members. To address support and training needs reported by leaders, three novel interventions were developed and pilot-tested. These included a leaders' website and discussion forum, DVD and manual, and a 2-day training workshop.


The interventions were developed using a combination of literature review, expert consensus, and consumer feedback. A convenience sample of ten leaders pilot-tested the Website and discussion forum. Using a mixed-method approach, evaluation of the workshop and the DVD and manual was conducted with 35 leaders.


Overall, satisfaction with all aspects of the Website and discussion forum was high. Analysis of the quantitative data revealed extremely high satisfaction with the workshop and DVD and manual. The qualitative responses of workshop participants further supported the quantitative findings with enhanced knowledge, understanding, and confidence reported by leaders.


All three interventions exhibited a high degree of user acceptance, regardless of the skill or experience of the cancer support group leader. The overall positive findings from the evaluation of the leader Website and discussion forum, the DVD and manual, and the workshop for cancer support group leaders provides evidence to support more rigorous evaluation of these resources in a randomized controlled trial.


Training Leaders Cancer Support groups 



An Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant (LP0562095, round 2) provided funding for this project, in conjunction with industry partner Cancer Council, New South Wales, Australia. Professor Phyllis Butow is supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Research Fellowship. We would also like to thank Eugenie Batterby, Ben Carew, and Jennie Dibley for their invaluable assistance on the project.

Conflicts of interest

All authors declare they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rachel D. Zordan
    • 1
  • Phyllis N. Butow
    • 1
    Email author
  • Laura Kirsten
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ilona Juraskova
    • 1
  • Amanda O’Reilly
    • 3
  • John Friedsam
    • 4
  • Nataly Bovopolous
    • 1
  • Paul Heinrich
    • 5
  • Margaret Charles
    • 6
  • Kim Hobbs
    • 7
  • David Kissane
    • 8
  1. 1.Centre for Medical Psychology and Evidence-Based Decision-Making (CeMPED), School of PsychologyUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Nepean Cancer Care CentreKingswoodAustralia
  3. 3.Cansupport, Royal North Shore HospitalSt LeonardsAustralia
  4. 4.Cancer Council NSWWoolloomoolooAustralia
  5. 5.Pam McLean Cancer Communications CentreUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  6. 6.School of PsychologyUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  7. 7.Department of Gynaecological OncologyWestmead HospitalSydneyAustralia
  8. 8.Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer CentreNew YorkUSA

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