Background: During, shortly after, and sometimes for years after hematopoietic stem cell transplant, a large proportion of hematological cancer patients undergoing transplant report significant physical and psychological symptoms and reduced health-related quality of life. To address these survivorship problems, we developed a low-burden, brief psychological intervention called expressive helping that includes two theory- and evidence-based components designed to work together synergistically: emotionally expressive writing and peer support writing. Building on evidence from a prior randomized control trial showing reductions in physical symptoms and distress in long-term transplant survivors with persistent survivorship problems, the Writing for Insight, Strength, and Ease (WISE) trial will evaluate the efficacy of expressive helping when used during transplant and in the early post-transplant period, when symptoms peak, and when intervention could prevent development of persistent symptoms. Methods: WISE is a multi-site, two-arm randomized controlled efficacy trial. Adult hematological cancer patients scheduled for a hematopoietic stem cell transplant will complete baseline measures and then, after hospitalization but prior to transplant, they will be randomized to complete either expressive helping or a time and attention “neutral writing” task. Both expressive helping and neutral writing involve four brief writing sessions, beginning immediately after randomization and ending approximately 4 weeks after hospital discharge. Measures of symptom burden (primary outcome), distress, health-related quality of life, and fatigue (secondary outcomes) will be administered in seven assessments coinciding with medically relevant time points from baseline and to a year post-intervention. Discussion: The steady and continuing increase in use of stem cell transplantation has created growing need for efficacious, accessible interventions to reduce the short- and long-term negative physical and psychosocial effects of this challenging but potentially life-saving treatment. Expressive helping is a psychological intervention that was designed to fill this gap. It has been shown to be efficacious in long-term transplant survivors but could have even greater impact if it is capable of reducing symptoms during and soon after transplant. The WISE study will evaluate these benefits in a rigorous randomized controlled trial. Trial registration: Clinicaltrial.govNCT03800758. Registered January 11, 2019
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