Engagement in an Interactive App for Symptom Self-Management during Treatment in Patients With Breast or Prostate Cancer: Mixed Methods Study.

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    • Abstract:
      Background: Using mobile technology for symptom management and self-care can improve patient-clinician communication and clinical outcomes in patients with cancer. The interactive app Interaktor has been shown to reduce symptom burden during cancer treatment. It includes symptom assessment, an alert system for contact with health care professionals, access to self-care advice, and visualization of symptom history. It is essential to understand how digital interventions operate; one approach is to examine engagement by assessing usage and exploring user experiences. Actual usage in relation to the intended use-adherence-is an essential factor of engagement.Objective: This study aimed to describe engagement with the Interaktor app among patients with breast or prostate cancer during treatment.Methods: Patients from the intervention groups of two separate randomized controlled trials were included: patients with breast cancer receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy (n=74) and patients with locally advanced prostate cancer receiving treatment with radiotherapy (n=75). The patients reported their symptoms daily. Sociodemographic and clinical data were obtained from baseline questionnaires and medical records. Logged data usage was retrieved from the server and analyzed descriptively and with multiple regression analysis. Telephone interviews were conducted with patients about their perceptions of using the app and analyzed using content analysis.Results: The median adherence percentage to daily symptom reporting was 83%. Most patients used the self-care advice and free text message component. Among the patients treated for breast cancer, higher age predicted a higher total number of free text messages sent (P=.04). Among the patients treated for prostate cancer, higher age (P=.01) and higher education level (P=.04), predicted an increase in total views on self-care advice, while higher comorbidity (P=.004) predicted a decrease in total views on self-care advice. Being married or living with a partner predicted a higher adherence to daily symptom reporting (P=.02). Daily symptom reporting created feelings of having continuous contact with health care professionals, being acknowledged, and safe. Being contacted by a nurse after a symptom alert was considered convenient and highly valued. Treatment and time-related aspects influenced engagement. Daily symptom reporting was perceived as particularly meaningful at the beginning of treatment. Requests were made for advice on diet and psychological symptoms, as well as for more comprehensive and detailed information as the patient progressed through treatment.Conclusions: Patient engagement in the interactive app Interaktor was high. The app promoted patient participation in their care through continuous and convenient contact with health care professionals. The predictive ability of demographic variables differed between patient groups, but higher age and a higher educational level predicted higher usage of specific app functions for both patient groups. Patients' experience of relevance and interactivity influenced their engagement positively. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]