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Keywords:

  • Cancer supportive care;
  • Cancer symptom;
  • Computer technology;
  • Patient-provider communication;
  • Symptom management;
  • Symptom monitoring

purpose: The purpose of this pilot project was to explore the feasibility of using a telephone-based computerized system to monitor postchemotherapy symptoms and to test the mechanism of generating alert communications to healthcare providers about symptoms that are poorly controlled.

description of study: Twenty-seven patients with cancer participated in the study by calling the telephone-linked care (TLC) system daily during a single cycle of chemotherapy and reporting on seven common chemotherapy-related symptoms. Using selected symptom data, symptoms that met a preset threshold for severity generated a fax notification of the patient's symptom pattern to the physician. Patients then were interviewed about their satisfaction with TLC and about suggestions for improvement.

results: The study demonstrated that TLC is easy to learn and use and that it captures daily symptom information from patients in their homes. A majority of patients experienced symptoms that were severe enough to generate symptom-alert faxes. Patient satisfaction with TLC was high. The technique, TLC voice, and the duration of the calls were acceptable to patients. There were few technical problems.

clinical implications: The TLC system has the potential to improve dramatically symptom monitoring and symptom care of patients with cancer at home. Further testing is needed, but the TLC chemotherapy monitoring application shows promise for improving supportive-care service delivery for cancer patients. In its initial test, the TLC chemotherapy monitoring application has been shown to be highly acceptable to patients, able to generate useful symptom data, and able to generate faxed alerts to healthcare providers, thus improving communication about poorly controlled symptoms.