An Internet-Based Means of Monitoring Quality of Life in Post-Prostate Radiation Treatment: A Prospective Cohort Study

Widespread integration of the Internet has resulted in an increase in the feasibility of using Web-based technologies as a means of communicating with patients. It may be possible to develop secure and standardized systems that facilitate Internet-based patient-reported outcomes which could be used to improve patient care.

This study investigates patient interest in participating in an online post-treatment disease outcomes and quality of life monitoring program developed specifically for patients who have received radiation treatment for prostate cancer at a regional oncology center.

Patients treated for prostate cancer between 2007 and 2011 (N=1113) at the British Columbia Cancer Agency, Centre for the Southern Interior were invited by mail to participate in a standardized questionnaire related to their post-treatment health. Overall participation rates were calculated. In addition, demographics, access to broadband Internet services, and treatment modalities were compared between participants and nonparticipants.

Of the 1030 eligible invitees, 358 (358/1030, 34. 7%) completed the online questionnaire. Participation rates were higher in individuals younger than age 60 when compared to those age 60 or older (42% vs 31%) and also for those living in urban areas compared with rural (37% vs 29%) and in those who received brachytherapy versus external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) (41% vs 31%). Better participation rates were seen in individuals who had access to Internet connectivity based on the different types of broadband services (DSL 35% for those with DSL connectivity vs 29% for those without DSL connectivity; cable 35% vs 32%; wireless 38% vs 26%). After adjusting for age, the model indicates that lack of access to wireless broadband connectivity, living in a rural area, and receiving EBRT were significant predictors of lower participation.

This study demonstrates that participation rates vary in patient populations within the interior region of British Columbia, especially with older patients, those in rural areas, and those with limited access to quality Internet services.

JMIR research protocols. 2015 Sep 28*** epublish ***

Brent Parker, Rasika Rajapakshe, Andrew Moldovan, Cynthia Araujo, Juanita Crook

British Columbia Cancer Agency, Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins Centre for the Southern Interior, Kelowna, BC, Canada.