PHILADELPHIA (March 17, 2021)—In a recent study, researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center assessed head and neck cancer patients’ satisfaction with the use of a web-based tool designed to provide information and strategies for managing symptom-focused concerns.
“The treatment for head and neck cancer can be very difficult, especially for those patients undergoing radiation treatment. Many symptoms and side effects continue even after treatment is completed. After meeting with clinicians here at Fox Chase, it was believed that we could develop a program to help patients address symptoms in a manner that was acceptable to them,” said Carolyn Y. Fang, PhD, author on the study and professor and co-leader of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at Fox Chase.
The prototype tool, My Journey Ahead, is a web-based program that can be easily accessed by patients at home and provides information on coping with side effects of head and neck cancer treatment. In the first phase of the study, five patients who completed treatment within the last year were shown the program and asked for feedback. Fang said initial feedback showed patients sought a wider scope of information and, specifically, more information on eating and health.
“Many reviewers were very interested in strategies for how they can maintain their health after treatment. We went back and expanded the program in the ways they described and that’s how we ended up with what is My Journey Ahead,” said Fang, who conducted the study with several other Fox Chase researchers.
Researchers then recruited 55 additional patients to evaluate the program in the second phase. Patients assessed measures of psychological distress, self-efficacy in coping with cancer-related issues, and satisfaction with the website.
“We found that the patients who evaluated it liked the program. They found it easy to use and said that the information was understandable and accessible,” said Fang. “We were really pleased to see that the patients enjoyed the program and found it helpful overall.”
Fang said the development of this program is the first step toward providing easily accessible health information to patients who may have fewer in-person appointments as their treatment finishes.
“This was a fairly small study. Ideally, we will take the information we learned, refine it, and make this program available on a broader basis. The goal is for patients who are receiving radiation treatment for their head and neck cancer to have access to this program and use it to help them during their journey through treatment,” said Fang.
The study, “Development of a Web-Based Supportive Care Program for Patients With Head and Neck Cancer,” was published in Frontiers in Oncology.