The purpose of this study was to test an intervention named ACCESS (Access for Cancer Caregivers to Education and Support for Shared Decision Making). The intervention uses private Facebook support groups to support and educate caregivers, preparing them to participate in shared decision-making during web-based hospice care plan meetings. The overall hypothesis behind the study was that family caregivers of hospice patients with cancer would experience lower anxiety and depression as a result of participating in an online Facebook support group and shared decision-making with hospice staff in a web-based care plan meeting.
This is a cluster cross-over randomised three-arm clinical trial where one group participated in both the Facebook group and the care plan team meeting. A second group participated only in the Facebook group and the third group was a control group and received usual hospice care.
There were 489 family caregivers who participated in the trial. There were no statistically significant differences between the ACCESS intervention group and the Facebook only or the control group on any outcome. The participants in the Facebook only group, however, experienced a statistically significant decrease in depression compared with the enhanced usual care group.
While the ACCESS intervention group did not experience significant improvement in outcomes, caregivers assigned to the Facebook only group showed significant improvement in depression scores from baseline as compared with the enhanced usual care control group. Further research is needed to understand the mechanisms of action leading to reduced depression.