Improving access to supportive cancer care through an eHealth application: a qualitative needs assessment among cancer survivors.

S. Lubberding, C.F. van Uden-Kraan, E.A. te Velde, P. Cuijpers, C.R. Leemans, I.M. Verdonck-de Leeuw

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Aims and objectives: To gain insight into cancer survivors' needs towards an eHealth application monitoring quality of life and targeting personalised access to supportive care. Background: Supportive care in cancer addresses survivors' concerns and needs. However, many survivors are not taking advantage of supportive care provided. To enable cancer survivors to benefit, survivors' needs must be identified timely and effectively. An eHealth application could be a solution to meet patients' individual supportive care needs. Design: A qualitative approach. Methods: Thirty cancer survivors (15 head and neck and 15 breast cancer survivors) participated. The majority were female (n = 20·67%). The mean age was 60 (SD 8·8) years. Mean time interval since treatment was 13·5 months (SD 10·5). All interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. During the interviews, participants were asked about their unmet needs during follow-up care and a potential eHealth application. Data were analyzed independently by two coders and coded into key issues and themes. Results: Cancer survivors commented that they felt unprepared for the post-treatment period and that their symptoms often remained unknown to care providers. Survivors also mentioned a suboptimal referral pattern to supportive care services. Mentioned advantages of an eHealth application were as follows: insight into the course of symptoms by monitoring, availability of information among follow-up appointments, receiving personalised advice and tailored supportive care. Conclusions: Cancer survivors identified several unmet needs during follow-up care. Most survivors were positive towards the proposed eHealth application and expressed that it could be a valuable addition to follow-up cancer care. Relevance to clinical practice: Study results provide care providers with insight into barriers that impede survivors from obtaining optimal supportive care. This study also provides insight into the characteristics needed to design, build and implement an eHealth application targeting personalised access to supportive care from the survivors' perspective. Future studies should address the viewpoints of care providers, and investigate the usability of the eHealth application prototype to facilitate implementation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1367-1379
JournalJournal of clinical nursing
Issue number9-10
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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