Development of a telehealth intervention for head and neck cancer patients

Telemed J E Health. 2009 Jan;15(1):44-52. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2008.0061.


Treatment for head and neck cancer precipitates a myriad of distressing symptoms. Patients may be isolated both physically and socially and may lack the self-efficacy to report problems and participate as partners in their care. The goal of this project was to design a telehealth intervention to address such isolation, develop patient self-efficacy, and improve symptom management during the treatment experience. Participatory action research and a review of the literature were used to develop electronically administered symptom management algorithms addressing all major symptoms experienced by patients undergoing treatment for head and neck cancers. Daily questions and related messages were then programmed into an easy-to-use telehealth messaging device, the Health Buddy(R). Clinician and patient acceptance, feasibility, and technology issues were measured. Using participatory action research is an effective means for developing electronic algorithms acceptable to both clinicians and patients. The use of a simple tele-messaging device as an adjunct to symptom management is feasible, affordable, and acceptable to patients. This telehealth intervention provides support and education to patients undergoing treatment for head and neck cancers.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Algorithms
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms* / psychology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Kentucky
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Qualitative Research
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telemedicine / instrumentation
  • Telemedicine / organization & administration*