Finding my Way - Dr Lisa Beatty 

PoCoG member, and newly appointed SAC member, Dr Lisa Beatty's online self-help program for cancer patients, Finding My Way, went live in February 2017, following 12 years' of work at Flinders University School of Psychology and the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer, which culminated in a four-year multi-site randomised controlled trial funded by the NHMRC. 

Finding My Way is an online tool, which delivers a Cognitive Behaviour Therapy based support program aiming to reduce cancer-related distress and improve coping. The web-based program delivers six weekly modules on physical and mental well-being including:

  • Managing what happens in the initial stages of a diagnosis including communication with the treatment team
  • Physical symptoms and side effects including pain and nausea
  • Emotional distress
  • Identify and role changes
  • Managing support networks and supporting loved ones
  •  Transitioning to life after cancer

Finding My Way is based on a print self-help workbook that the program authors developed and evaluated as part of Dr Beatty’s PhD research in 2007-2008.  Following the printed book the program authors went on to develop and pilot an online version of this program from 2009-2012.

This first website, Cancer Coping Online, indicated promising results during feasibility testing and a single site RCT of 60 participants; then in 2012 Dr Beatty and Professor Bogda Koczwara, along with a team of local and national researchers, received a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) project grant to update the website and test its helpfulness in a 4-year national study.

The efficacy of the updated intervention, renamed ‘Finding My Way’’, was tested in a large study involving 191 participants across six Australian hospitals and was also promoted via cancer research registries.

Dr Beatty, newly appointed as Cancer Council SA Research Fellow (Cancer Support) located at the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer, says there is big demand for psychological support for cancer patients but this is often hampered by a shortage of services and some people’s unwillingness or inability to access psycho-social services.

“It isn’t easy for everyone to access these services, and the demand is great,” Dr Beatty says.

One of the goals of Finding My Way is to plug this accessibility gap.

“The internet has become a universal source of information around the world and some people with cancer have a strong preference to try to manage on their own terms.

“For all forms of cancer, there are a lot of people struggling to cope with things like dealing with the emotional stress of diagnosis and treatment, common symptoms and side-effects, dealing with medical system, and even how to support loved ones.”

The Finding My Way website, supported and maintained by Flinders Foundation, is the first website designed for people at the point of diagnosis of curatively-treated cancer, dedicated to giving comprehensive self-help resources.

Lisa says Finding My Way is currently being adapted or planned for adaptation across 5 countries in Europe, the UK, and the USA, and Lisa and her team are currently using the program as a basis for developing a new web-based resource for women newly diagnosed with advanced breast cancer.