Cancer patients experience many physical and psychosocial problems for which they need support. WebChoice is an internet-based, interactive, health communication application (IHCA) that allows cancer patients to monitor their symptoms and problems; provides individually tailored information and self-management support; e-communication with expert cancer nurses; and an e-forum for group discussion with other patients.
In this study, we examined the effects of WebChoice on: symptom distress (primary outcome), depression, self-efficacy, HRQoL, and social support (secondary outcomes).
In this one-year repeated measures RCT, 325 breast and prostate cancer patients were randomized into one experimental group with access to WebChoice, and one control group who received URLs of publicly available cancer Websites.
Group differences on symptom distress were significant for the global symptom distress index on the Memorial Symptom Assessment scale (slope estimate (95%CI)= -0.052 (-0.101, -0.004) t=4.42, p=0.037). Additional analyses showed significant within-group improvements in depression in the experimental group only. In the control group self-efficacy and HRQoL deteriorated significantly over time.
Conclusion: The RCT was one of the first to evaluate effects of an IHCA to support cancer patients in illness management on symptoms. While only one hypothesis was supported, the combined results show a clear trend towards better scores in the intervention group on most outcome measures. If findings can be supported with additional research, WebChoice may become an important tool to support nursing care that can equip cancer patients to better manage their illness.