BACKGROUND: Consumer electronics and Web-enabled mobile devices are playing an increasing role in patient care, and their use in the oncologic sector opens up promising possibilities in the fields of supportive cancer care and systematic patient follow-up. OBJECTIVE: The objective of our study was to assess the acceptance and possible benefits of a mobile app-based concept for supportive care of cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy. METHODS: In total, 975 patients presenting for radiotherapy due to breast or prostate cancer were screened; of them, 200 owned a smartphone and consented to participate in the survey. Patients were requested to complete a questionnaire at 2 time points: prior to the initiation (T0) and after the completion (T1) of radiotherapy. The questionnaire included questions about the habits of smartphone usage, technical knowledge and abilities of the participants, readiness to use a mobile app within the context of radiotherapy, possible features of the mobile app, and general attitude toward the different aspects of oncologic treatments. For quantitative analysis, sum scores were calculated for all areas of interest, and results were correlated with patient characteristics. Additionally, answers were quantitatively compared between time points T0 and T1. RESULTS: Median patient age was 57 (range 27-78) years. Of the 200 participants, 131 (66.2%) reported having the ability to use their smartphones with minimal to no help and 75.8% (150/200) had not used their smartphones in a medical context before. However, 73.3% (146/200) and 83.4% (166/200) of patients showed a strong interest in using a mobile app for supportive care during radiotherapy and as part of the clinical follow-up, respectively. Patients most commonly requested functionalities regarding appointment scheduling in the clinic (176/200, 88.0%) and the collection of patient-reported outcome data regarding their illness, therapy, and general well-being (130/200, 65.0%). Age was identified as the most influential factor regarding patient attitude, with patients aged 〈55 years being significantly more inclined toward and versed in smartphone use (P〈.001). The acceptance of mobile apps was significantly higher in patients exhibiting a Karnofsky performance index 〈80% (P=.01). Support in the context of therapy-related side effects was judged most important by patients with poor clinical performance (P=.006). The overall acceptance of mobile apps in the context of radiotherapy surveillance was high at a median item sum score of 71.4/100 and was not significantly influenced by tumor stage, age, gender, treatment setting, or previous radiotherapies. CONCLUSIONS: The acceptance of mobile apps for the surveillance and follow-up of cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy is high; this high acceptance level will serve as a basis for future clinical trials investigating the clinical benefits of mobile app-based treatment support. Introduction of mobile apps into the clinical routine should be considered as an opportunity to improve and intensify supportive treatment for cancer patients.
Type of Publication:
Journal article published