Goals of work: Recent changes in cancer service provision mean that many patients spend a limited time in hospital and therefore experience and must cope with and manage treatment-related side effects at home. Information technology can provide innovative solutions in promoting patient care through information provision, enhancing communication, monitoring treatment-related side effects and promoting self-care.
Patients and methods: The aim of this feasibility study was to evaluate the acceptability of using handheld computers as a symptom assessment and management tool for patients receiving chemotherapy for cancer. A convenience sample of patients (n = 18) and health professionals (n = 9) at one Scottish cancer centre was recruited. Patients used the handheld computer to record and send daily symptom reports to the cancer centre and receive instant, tailored symptom management advice during two treatment cycles. Both patients' and health professionals' perceptions of the handheld computer system were evaluated at baseline and at the end of the project.
Main results: Patients believed the handheld computer had improved their symptom management and felt comfortable in using it. The health professionals also found the handheld computer to be helpful in assessing and managing patients' symptoms.
Conclusions: This project suggests that a handheld-computer-based symptom management tool is feasible and acceptable to both patients and health professionals in complementing the care of patients receiving chemotherapy.