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Assessing Cancer Survivors’ Needs Using Web-Based Technology: A Pilot Study

LAVOIE SMITH, ELLEN M. PhD, APRN-BC, AOCN; SKALLA, KAREN MS, APRN-BC, AOCN; LI, ZHONGZE MS; ONEGA, TRACY PhD; RHODA, JUNE MSN, APRN-BC; GATES, CHARLENE RPT; LITTERINI, AMY PT, DPT; SCOTT, MARY R. MS, APRN-BC, AOCN

CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing: February 2012 - Volume 30 - Issue 2 - p 71–81
doi: 10.1097/NCN.0b013e318246042e
Feature Article

Development of cancer survivor resources has been hampered by lack of knowledge regarding survivors’ needs. The main study aim was to pilot test a Web-based cancer survivor needs assessment survey. The second aim was to pilot three sampling approaches. This cross-sectional study was conducted at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center and nine community-based clinics serving urban and rural populations. Population-based and convenience sampling approaches were used to recruit 547 participants over 4 months. Participants completed a Web-based cancer survivor needs assessment survey. Respondents were mainly white (98%), married (71%) women (80%) with a college education (96%). Although most (66%) (n = 362) had been diagnosed with breast cancer, other cancer diagnoses were represented. Participants reported fatigue (47%), forgetfulness (39%), joint pain (34%), anxiety (31%), trouble sleeping (28%), peripheral neuropathy (27%), inflexibility (23%), and weight gain (23%). Survivors with nonbreast solid tumor malignancies reported more problems than those with breast or hematologic malignancies (P range = .037 to <.0001). Most survivors requested assistance for losing weight (74.2%), decreasing fatigue (50%), and improving flexibility (69.3%), sleep (68.5%), and memory (60.2%). Results supported that cancer survivors struggle with many enduring problems. Web-based technology will facilitate future exploration of unmet needs.

Author Affiliations: School of Nursing, University of Michigan (Dr Lavoie Smith), Ann Arbor, MI; and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (Mss Skalla, Rhoda, Gates, and Scott) and Biostatistics Shared Resource, Norris Cotton Cancer Center (Mr Li), Lebanon; Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover (Mr Li and Dr Onega); and The Center for Cancer Care at Exeter Hospital (Dr Litterini), NH.

This research was funded by the Dartmouth Center for Translational and Clinical Science.

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationship with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

Corresponding author: Ellen M. Lavoie Smith, PhD, APRN-BC, AOCN, School of Nursing, University of Michigan, 400 North Ingalls, Room 2151, Ann Arbor, MI 48109 (Ellenls@umich.edu).

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.