Guy’s Hospital: text surveys more useful for cancer patients

Kit Heren (14 July, 2021)

More people speaking up online could be because they had more time to think, or they felt it was easier to be more honest

46128Cancer patient Clare Johnson

A new study carried out by staff at Guy’s and St Thomas’s has shown that cancer patients are more likely to speak up about their health concerns when contacted online or by text compared to in-person or phone discussions.
About 650 people took part in the study online soon after getting a cancer diagnosis. They were twice as likely to report concerns than people who were contacted via other methods. Before Covid-19 the survey was usually done over the phone or in person.

More people speaking up online could be because they had more time to think, or they felt it was easier to be more honest, staff said.

Nikki Cannon, a senior member of the Guy’s cancer team who led the study, said: “Delivering personalised care is really important – we need to know what support patients most need after their cancer diagnosis. This is done by a holistic needs assessment.

“When we first introduced the assessment by text, we realised patients were flagging more concerns about their health than those who had in-person assessments. It could be those patients have more time at home to reflect on their answers, and they feel they can be more honest than if they are in a clinic. By continuing to focus on what our patients tell us we are better able to evolve our practice and work with partners to meet those needs.

“The text assessments have been a really useful additional tool for us to support patients, in addition to face-to-face, and it’s something we will continue to offer our patients.”

Clare Johnson was treated at Guy’s Cancer for breast cancer. The 56-year-old, from Beckenham in Kent, completed her questionnaire online.

She said: “Being able to complete the questionnaire in the comfort of my own home rather than a busy clinic, gave me the time I needed to really think about how I was feeling and be able to fill it in without worrying that I was taking too long.”

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