Currently accepted at: Journal of Medical Internet Research
Date Submitted: May 9, 2018
Open Peer Review Period: May 12, 2018 - Jul 18, 2018
Date Accepted: Jul 23, 2018
(closed for review but you can still tweet)
Oncology Patient Interest in the Use of New Technologies to Manage Their Disease: Cross-Sectional Survey
Information and communication technologies (ICTs) in oncology can revolutionize the medical care of cancer patients. ICTs can promote patientsâ€™ empowerment and real-time disease monitoring. There is limited information about the impact of ICTs in cancer patients or their level of interest in using these tools for greater management of their condition.
This study aimed to understand the ICT usage profile in hematology-oncology patients to identify their needs and determine their level of interest in these technologies as a means of managing their disease.
A 28-item questionnaire was drawn up by a multidisciplinary team including pharmacists and oncologists. The questions were organized into 3 blocks, which were as follows: block Aâ€”sociodemographic characteristics; block Bâ€”use of ICTs when searching for health-related information; and block Câ€”usage preferences for health apps. Hematology-oncology patients receiving treatment between May and July 2017 were included. A paper copy of the questionnaire was handed over to patients in either the day hospital or the pharmaceutical care consultancy in pharmacy services.
A total of 650 questionnaires were handed out, with a participation of 94.0% (611/650). Patient sociodemographic characteristics were as follows: mean age was 57.8 years (age range: 19-91). Of 611 participants, 40.7% (249/611) had a university education, and 45.1% (276/611) of participants reported their overall state of health to be good. Results from use of ICTs when searching for health-related information were as follows: 87.1% (532/611) of participants were interested in being informed about health-related matters. Of all participants, 75.5% (532/611) sought information from health professionals and 61.3% (375/611) on the internet. Before going to their doctorâ€™s appointment, 21.8% (133/611) of patients looked up information about their disease or treatment on the internet. This access to the internet rose to 50.9% (311/611) after their first medical appointment with their oncologist. Usage preferences for health apps were as follows: 82.7% (505/611) had a smartphone, whereas 20.3% (124/611) had a health app installed. Overall, 81.5% (498/611) would use an app if their health professional recommended it to them, but 39.6% (242/611) were not willing to pay for it.
The hematology-oncology patients showed a great deal of interest in searching for health-related information by means of ICTs, especially using smartphones and apps. The issues that drew the most interest in terms of apps were appointment management, advice on disease management, and communication with health professionals. Free access to these features and the recommendation by a health professional are important factors when it comes to their use. Therefore, the health care provider is a key element in the recommendation of ICTs, providing their knowledge and experience concerning their correct usage.
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