FRIDAY, Feb. 10, 2017 -- Online- and phone-based healthcare offers a number of benefits for cancer survivors, British researchers report.
The new study looked at previous research on cancer survivors' experiences with online and phone health contacts -- what the researchers call telehealth.
The review found that patients liked the flexibility and convenience of this method of staying in touch with their care providers because they could do so in a familiar, comfortable setting and with minimum disruption to their lives.
The perceived anonymity of telehealth reduced patients' sense of vulnerability and some said they were more comfortable raising concerns in this setting than in face-to-face appointments.
Negative aspects of telehealth mentioned by patients included not being able to meet their healthcare providers in person, while other patients said they couldn't use the service due to issues such as hearing problems (with phone-based services) or lack of computer skills.
"Our research found that cancer survivors wanted to get back to their daily lives as quickly as possible, telehealth helped facilitate this as it removed the often burdensome visits to hospital and enabled the integration of care into daily routines," said study leader Anna Cox. She is a research fellow at the University of Surrey's School of Health Sciences.
"For many cancer survivors, telehealth supported their independence and offered them reassurance," Cox said in a university news release.
But it really came down to personal preference, the researchers noted. Some people still preferred traditional face-to-face methods of care.
"We are now living in a digital world and it is important that our care models take advantage of this... Involving a range of cancer survivors in the design of telehealth interventions is essential to their success," Cox concluded.
The study was published recently in the Journal of Medical and Internet Research.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on cancer survivorship.
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