Mechanism underlying a brief cognitive behavioral treatment for head and neck cancer survivors with body image distress.

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Supportive care in cancer : official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer


PURPOSE: Body image distress (BID) among head and neck cancer (HNC) survivors is a debilitating toxicity associated with depression, anxiety, stigma, and poor quality of life. BRIGHT (Building a Renewed ImaGe after Head & neck cancer Treatment) is a brief cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that reduces BID for these patients. This study examines the mechanism underlying BRIGHT.

METHODS: In this randomized clinical trial, HNC survivors with clinically significant BID were randomized to receive five weekly psychologist-led video tele-CBT sessions (BRIGHT) or dose-and delivery matched survivorship education (attention control [AC]). Body image coping strategies, the hypothesized mediators, were assessed using the Body Image Coping Skills Inventory (BICSI). HNC-related BID was measured with the Inventory to Measure and Assess imaGe disturbancE-Head and Neck (IMAGE-HN). Causal mediation analyses were used to estimate the mediated effects of changes in BICSI scores on changes in IMAGE-HN scores.

RESULTS: Among 44 HNC survivors with BID allocated to BRIGHT (n = 20) or AC (n = 24), mediation analyses showed that BRIGHT decreased avoidant body image coping (mean change in BICSI-Avoidance scale score) from baseline to 1-month post-intervention relative to AC (p = 0.039). Decreases in BICSI-Avoidance scores from baseline to 1-month resulted in decreases in IMAGE-HN scores from baseline to 3 months (p = 0.009). The effect of BRIGHT on IMAGE-HN scores at 3 months was partially mediated by a decrease in BICSI-Avoidance scores (p = 0.039).

CONCLUSIONS: This randomized trial provides preliminary evidence that BRIGHT reduces BID among HNC survivors by decreasing avoidant body image coping. Further research is necessary to confirm these results and enhance the development of interventions targeting relevant pathways to reduce BID among HNC survivors.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: identifier NCT03831100 .





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