Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 1725–1733 | Cite as

Pilot randomised controlled trial of a radiation therapist-led educational intervention for breast cancer patients prior to commencing radiotherapy

  • G. K. B. Halkett
  • M. O’Connor
  • S. Aranda
  • M. Jefford
  • T. Shaw
  • D. York
  • N. Spry
  • M. Taylor
  • P. Schofield
Original Article



Although patients receive information prior to commencing radiotherapy, they often experience anxiety and distress. We conducted a pilot randomised controlled trial to determine whether a radiation therapist led psycho-educational intervention for breast cancer patients prior to radiotherapy is likely to be effective in reducing radiotherapy-related concerns, patient anxiety and depression.


The intervention comprised two face-to-face consultations with a radiation therapist (one prior to radiation planning and the other prior to treatment). Patients completed surveys at baseline, prior to treatment planning and on the first day of treatment. Outcome measures included the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, Radiation Therapy Related Patient Concerns and Radiation Therapy Knowledge Scales.


One hundred and twenty two patients completed baseline measures. Fifty-eight patients received usual care, and 64 received the intervention. After the first consultation, patient anxiety was significantly lower in the intervention group (p = 0.048), as were concerns about radiotherapy (p = 0.001). There were no differences between groups for depression. Patient knowledge for the intervention group was higher after the first consultation (p < 0.001).


This intervention is likely to be effective in reducing patient anxiety and concerns and increasing knowledge. Future research is required to test this intervention with a larger population.


Anxiety Breast cancer Communication skills Patient education Radiotherapy Randomised controlled trial 



Dr Georgia Halkett was supported by a National Breast Cancer Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship and a Curtin University Research Fellowship. Debra York and Sharadeh Ramdeny were the research assistants for this study. We would like to thank Rachel Kearvell and Kristy Levett for their assistance in the ongoing conduct of this study. We also thank the RTs involved in delivering the intervention and the women who participated in this study.


This study received a pilot study grant from the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Conflict of interest

None to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. K. B. Halkett
    • 1
    • 8
  • M. O’Connor
    • 1
    • 2
  • S. Aranda
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • M. Jefford
    • 3
    • 4
  • T. Shaw
    • 1
    • 6
  • D. York
    • 1
  • N. Spry
    • 1
    • 7
  • M. Taylor
    • 7
  • P. Schofield
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.WA Centre for Cancer and Palliative Care/Curtin Health Innovation Research InstituteCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia
  2. 2.School of Psychology and Speech PathologyCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Nursing and Supportive Care ResearchPeter MacCallum Cancer CentreMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health SciencesUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  5. 5.Cancer Services and InformationCancer Institute NSWSydneyAustralia
  6. 6.Child Health Promotion Research Centre, School of Exercise, Biomedical & Health SciencesEdith Cowan UniversityPerthAustralia
  7. 7.Department of Radiation OncologySir Charles Gairdner HospitalPerthAustralia
  8. 8.WA Centre for Cancer and Palliative CareCurtin University, Western AustraliaPerthAustralia

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