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Relationship and Attachment to Digital Health Technology During Cancer Treatment.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study is to explore the relationship that people with cancer and their family caregivers develop with symptom management technology during chemotherapy.

DATA SOURCES: A longitudinal and multi-perspective interpretative phenomenological approach was adopted. Data were collected using one-to-one in-depth interviews with people with colorectal cancer using supportive digital health symptom management technology (n=3) and their family caregivers (n=4) at two time points during chemotherapy treatment. Data were analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis and followed COREQ guidelines.

CONCLUSION: People with cancer and their family caregivers can develop emotional bonds with supportive symptom management technology during cancer treatment. Digital health technology can be experienced as a person guiding them during their cancer treatment. Participants felt vulnerable after the technology was returned to the research team. Participants recognized that it was not the technology that successfully facilitated them through their initial chemotherapy cycles; rather, the technology helped them learn to manage their symptoms and promoted their self-efficacy, as well as how to emotionally respond.

IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING PRACTICE: The relationship and psychological bonds people with cancer and their family caregivers develop with technology during treatment may be critically important for oncology nurses to be aware of should digital health be prescribed within the outpatient model of cancer care. This study indicates that technology may not be needed for a full treatment experience, as digital health can promote confidence and self-efficacy regarding symptom management and prepare people with cancer to be independent after the digital health technology is returned to the research team. However, further research is needed regarding individual preferences for digital health provision.

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