Report from a Multi-Institutional Randomized Clinical Trial Examining Computer-Assisted Problem-Solving Skills Training for English- and Spanish-Speaking Mothers of Children with Newly Diagnosed Cancer

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Abstract

Objectives

To evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of a handheld personal digital assistant (PDA)-based supplement for maternal Problem-Solving Skills Training (PSST) and to explore Spanish-speaking mothers’ experiences with it.

Methods

Mothers (n=197) of children with newly diagnosed cancer were randomized to traditional PSST or PSST + PDA 8-week programs. Participants completed the Social Problem-Solving Inventory-Revised, Beck Depression Inventory-II, Profile of Mood States, and Impact of Event Scale-Revised pre-, post-treatment, and 3 months after completion of the intervention. Mothers also rated optimism, logic, and confidence in the intervention and technology.

Results

Both groups demonstrated significant positive change over time on all psychosocial measures. No between-group differences emerged. Despite technological “glitches,” mothers expressed moderately high optimism, appreciation for logic, and confidence in both interventions and rated the PDA-based program favorably. Technology appealed to all Spanish-speaking mothers, with younger mothers showing greater proficiency.

Conclusions

Well-designed, supported technology holds promise for enhancing psychological interventions.

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