Impact of internet-based cancer survivorship care plans on health care and lifestyle behaviors

Christine E Hill-Kayser, Carolyn C Vachani, Margaret K Hampshire, Gloria Di Lullo, Linda A Jacobs, James M Metz
Cancer 2013 November 1, 119 (21): 3854-60

BACKGROUND: Survivorship care plans (SCP) are currently recommended by the Institute of Medicine, and will soon be required for accreditation by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. To the best of the authors' knowledge, the impact of SCPs on cancer survivors has not been previously reported.

METHODS: In 2007, the authors created an Internet tool for the creation of SCPs that provides customized guidelines for survivorship care. Users are sent a voluntary follow-up survey 1 month after initial use.

RESULTS: From May 2010 through January 2013, 8690 cancer survivors used the SCP tool. The most common diagnoses were breast (45%), hematologic (12%), and gastrointestinal (11%) cancers; the median age of the survivors was 51 years. Of these, 875 (10%) respondents provided information for future electronic contact and 298 responded to a 1-month follow-up survey. They reported that the information provided was "good" to "excellent" in 93% of cases, and new in 65% of cases. With regard to the emotional impact of the SCP, 62% of responding survivors believed that it provided "just enough" information, 72% felt "more informed," and 94% believed they would recommend it to others. The majority of respondents (63%) thought that the SCP changed their health care participation, and 80% shared/planned to share it with their health care team. Of those survivors who had done so, 80% reported that it improved communication with their health care providers. Greater than one-half of survey users (54%) reported that they had made or planned to make a lifestyle change in response to the SCP, most commonly dietary modification and increased exercise.

CONCLUSIONS: Survivorship care plans are useful vehicles with which to promote lifestyle and behavioral changes, and to assist survivors with communication with health care providers. These findings support recommendations from the Institute of Medicine and the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.

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