Background: The 2016 President’s Cancer Panel called for projects focusing on improving cancer symptom management using connected health technologies (broadband and telecommunications). However, rural communities, like those in Appalachia, may experience a “double burden” of high cancer rates and lower rates of broadband access and adoption necessary for connected health solutions.
Purpose: To better understand the current landscape of connected health in the management of cancer symptoms in rural America.
Methods: A literature search was conducted using four academic databases (PubMed, CINAHL, MEDLINE, and PsycINFO) to locate articles published from 2010 to 2019 relevant to connected cancer symptom management in rural America. Text screening was conducted to identify relevant publications.
Results: Among 17 reviewed studies, four were conducted using a randomized controlled trial; the remainder were formative in design or small pilot projects. Five studies engaged stakeholders from rural communities in designing solutions. Most commonly studied symptoms were psychological/emotional symptoms, followed by physical symptoms, particularly pain. Technologies used were primarily telephone-based; few were Internet-enabled video conferencing or web-based. Advanced mobile and Internet-based approaches were generally in the development phase. Overall, both rural patients and healthcare providers reported high acceptance, usage, and satisfaction of connected health technologies. Ten of the 17 studies reported improved symptom management outcomes. Methodological challenges that limited the interpretation of the findings were summarized.
Implications: The review identified a need to engage rural stakeholders to develop and test connected cancer symptom management solutions that are based on advanced mobile and broadband Internet technologies.
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Chih M-Y, McCowan A, Whittaker S, et al. The landscape of connected cancer symptom management in rural America: A narrative review of opportunities for launching connected health interventions. J Appalach Health 2020;2(4):64–81. DOI: https://doi.org/10.13023/jah.0204.08