A trial looking at different ways to give a type of support called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to people with cancer

Please note - this trial is no longer recruiting patients. We hope to add results when they are available.

Cancer type:

All cancer types





This trial is to see how well it works to have a type of counselling called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) over the phone compared with having this treatment face to face. This trial is for people with cancer under the care of the Royal Marsden Hospital.

If you are having difficulty coping with your cancer, you might be referred to a specialist from the mental health team (psychiatrist or psychologist). You may have CBT to help you to change how you think about your situation (cognitive) and what you do to cope (behaviour). These changes can help you to feel better.

When you have CBT, you usually meet up with your therapist and talk things through face to face. But this may not always be possible, for example if you are too unwell, or unable to get to the hospital. Researchers want to see if this treatment would work as well if you had it over the phone. If it does, it could mean that people who are not well or able to get to hospital could still have therapy. More people could have the therapy because appointments wouldn’t be left empty when people haven’t come in. The main aims of this trial are to see how well each way of having CBT

  • Works to help people cope
  • Improves fair access to emotional support
  • Works, balanced against how much it costs

Who can enter

This trial is for people with cancer under the care of the Royal Marsden Hospital. If you need mental or emotional support, you will be asked if you would like to take part. You can enter this trial if you

  • Have any type of cancer except non melanoma skin cancer
  • Have known about your cancer diagnosis for more than 8 weeks
  • Are able to complete a trial questionnaire with or without help
  • Have regular access to a telephone
  • Are at least 18 years old

You cannot enter this trial if you

  • Have a serious mental health condition and you need medication to treat this, or you are very likely to think about taking your own life
  • Are already having treatment for a mental or emotional condition (psychological therapy)

Trial design

This trial will recruit 160 people into 2 groups. It is a randomised trial. The people taking part are put into groups by a computer. Neither you nor your doctor will be able to decide which group you are in.

If you are in group 1, you will have a course of cognitive behavioural therapy at the hospital, in the same way as if you were not taking part in the trial. You will see a specialist from the mental health team (psychiatrist or psychologist). They will help you to understand your thought patterns, and learn how to control your feelings more. Each session will take an hour, and you can have 4 main (‘core’) sessions, and up to 8 sessions if needed.

If you are in group 2, you will have the same sessions of treatment, but will talk to the specialist over the phone, rather than coming in to hospital. If you agree, the trial team may audio tape some of these phone CBT sessions. This is to make sure that everyone has the same high standard of treatment.

Everyone will complete a short questionnaire before and after they have their course of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). The questionnaire will ask you questions about how you are feeling and coping with your cancer. It will include a quality of life study. The trial team would also like to collect information about your cancer, and any treatment you are having. The questionnaires will take about 20 minutes to complete, and you return them to the trial team by post.

After you finish the trial, if you still need mental or emotional support, the team may refer you to another specialist team at the hospital.

Hospital visits

You will take part in this trial for 3 to 4 months. You will only need to come into hospital if you are in group 1, for your CBT sessions. Everything else in the trial will happen when you are at home.

Side effects

As there is no medication in this trial, there are no physical side effects. The CBT may show up concerns that you have, as talking about your feelings may bring these to the surface. However the impact should be the same as if you were having CBT outside the trial. We know from research that talking about worries can help reduce distress.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Prof Maggie Watson

Supported by

Royal Marsden Hospital Charitable Fund

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle - 6714

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Wendy took part in a new trial studying the possible side effect of hearing loss

A picture of Wendy

"I was delighted to take part in a clinical trial as it has the potential to really help others in the future.”

Last reviewed:

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