Benefits of home-telemonitoring for rural dwelling cancer patients are largely unknown. This study examined the effectiveness of home-telemonitoring surveillance with nurse coaching for self-management to improve lung cancer outcomes in mountainous Appalachia where health care access/ service is limited. This randomized clinical trial pilot study compared patient outcomes for telemonitoring versus routine care. A convenience sample (N = 47) was enrolled/ randomized (Telemonitored: 26/ Control: 21) from a university hospital and cancer center. Physiologic parameters and symptoms were collected in the telemonitored group for two weeks; all participants were studied for 60 days after the index treatment/ discharge. The telemonitored group showed greater improvement for both functional status (Wald X2 = 3.78, p = .05) and quality of life (QOL) (Wald X2 = 7.25, p = .007) from baseline to 60 days post-discharge. Compared to controls, telemonitored patients survived longer; had more scheduled medical visits (96% vs. 75%); made more unplanned calls to doctors/ nurses (32% vs. 30% & 64% vs. 50%); had fewer rehospitalizations (28% vs. 40%); and had more ER utilization (36% vs. 30%). The telemonitored group had relative improvements for health utility (.09 on a scale where 0 = death/ 1= perfect health) and QOL (15 on 0-100 VAS). Differences in health care utilization and cost were not significantly different (p > .05), likely due to the sample size. Telemonitoring group satisfaction with care was high and recommended by patients and caregivers. Results suggest that it is possible to improve patient outcomes with home-telemonitoring for self-management in rural areas. Short-term, telemonitoring-based coaching is feasible and offers a promising option to develop patient self-management knowledge and skills.
Keywords: Appalachia; Home-Telemonitoring; Lung Cancer; Randomized Clinical Trial; Self-Management.