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Study Assesses Benefit of Digital Health Tools for Cancer Survivors


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New study results suggest that to maximize effects of digital support tools for cancer survivors, it is essential to personalize information and increase engagement efforts. The report, published by Leach et al in the journal Cancer, demonstrated significant improvement in the ability to manage survivorship-related issues, such as fatigue and fear of cancer recurrence, among those who used digital support programs, but not among survivors who did not.

Springboard Beyond Cancer

To learn more about how digital health interventions can help cancer survivors, investigators conducted a randomized controlled trial in a sample of 176 cancer survivors assessing the effectiveness of and engagement with the eHealth program called Springboard Beyond Cancer, a Web- and printed text–based self-management program for cancer survivors and caregivers. The trial compared the differences between self-efficacy of the enhanced Springboard Beyond Cancer intervention vs a website with the same content without the dynamic interface.

“This is the first evaluation of this digital health tool for cancer survivors and will help inform future work and programs offered to survivors and their families,” said first study author Corinne R. Leach PhD, MS, MPH, of the American Cancer Society. “Cancer survivors often need to learn new strategies to effectively manage cancer-related concerns and ways to continue or adopt new behaviors, such as healthy eating and being physically active….”

Improved confidence in managing cancer-related issues, the primary outcome of this trial, increased significantly within the intervention program. Additionally, participants with moderate to high engagement with the text and/or Web intervention had a significantly greater confidence in managing cancer-related issues, such as fatigue and communication with health-care providers, compared to the control group, with a medium effect size.

“The results from this and prior digital health randomized controlled trials suggest that eHealth and mHealth tools can work for those who engage as designed, but do not always work for everyone,” the authors concluded. "This research is exciting as we think about how to deliver better, more personalized support to patients with cancer and their families through digital channels.”

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.
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