Improving outcomes in cancer patients on oral anti-cancer medications using a novel mobile phone-based intervention: study design of a randomized controlled trial

JMIR Res Protoc. 2014 Dec 23;3(4):e79. doi: 10.2196/resprot.4041.


Background: The widespread and increasing use of oral anti-cancer medications has been ushered in by a rapidly increasing understanding of cancer pathophysiology. Furthermore, their popular ease of administration and potential cost savings has highlighted their central position in the health care system as a whole. These facts have heightened appreciation of the unique challenges associated with the use of oral anti-cancer medications; especially in the long-term use of these medications and the associated side effects that may impede optimal adherence to their use. Therefore, we developed ChemOtheRapy Assistant, CORA, a personalized mobile phone-based self-management application to help cancer patients on oral anti-cancer medications.

Objective: Our objective is to evaluate the effect of CORA on adherence to oral anti-cancer medications and other clinically relevant outcomes in the management of patients with renal and prostate cancer.

Methods: The study will be implemented as a 2-parallel group randomized controlled trial in 104 patients with renal or prostate cancer on oral anti-cancer medications over a 3-month study period. The intervention group will use CORA in addition to usual care for self-management while the control group will continue care as usual. Medication adherence will be measured objectively by a Medication Event Monitoring System device and is defined as the percentage of prescribed doses taken. We will also assess the effect of the intervention on cancer-related symptoms measured by the MD Anderson Symptom Inventory and unplanned hospital utilizations. Other outcomes that will be measured at study start, midpoint, and endpoint are health-related quality of life, cancer-related fatigue, and anxiety. Group differences in medication adherence will be examined by t tests or by non-parametric Mann-Whitney tests if the data are not normally distributed. Logistic regression will be used to identify potential predictors of adherence.

Results: We expect to have results for this study before the end of 2016.

Conclusions: This novel mobile phone-enabled, multimodal self-management and educational intervention could lead to improvements in clinical outcomes and serve as a foundation for future mHealth research in improving outcomes for patients on oral anti-cancer medications.

Keywords: cancer; mHealth; medication adherence; mobile application; oral anti-cancer medication; randomized controlled trial; self-care.