Rationale and design of extended cancer education for longer term survivors (EXCELS): a randomized control trial of 'high touch' vs. 'high tech' cancer survivorship self-management tools in primary care

BMC Cancer. 2019 Apr 11;19(1):340. doi: 10.1186/s12885-019-5531-6.


Background: Breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer survivors are at increased risk for late and long-term effects post-treatment. The post-treatment phase of care is often poorly coordinated and survivors navigate follow-up care with minimal information or guidance from their healthcare team. This manuscript describes the Extended Cancer Education for Longer-term Survivors (EXCELS) in Primary Care protocol. EXCELS is a randomized controlled trial to test the efficacy of patient-level self-management educational strategies on adherence to preventative health service use and cancer survivorship follow-up guidelines.

Methods: The EXCELS trial compares four conditions: (1) EXCELS-website (e.g., a mobile-optimized technology platform); (2) EXCELS-health coaching; (3) EXCELS-website and health coaching; and (4) a print booklet. Approximately 480 breast, colorectal, and prostate survivors will be recruited through the New Jersey Primary Care Research Network (NJPCRN) and New Jersey State Cancer Registry (NJSCR). Eligible survivors (diagnosed stages 1-3) must have completed active treatment, access to a phone and a computer, smartphone or tablet with internet access, and be able to speak and read English. Patient assessments occur at baseline, 6, 12, and 18 months. The primary outcomes are increased engagement in preventive health services and monitoring for cancer recurrence and treatment-related late effects.

Discussion: The EXCELS trial is the first to test cancer survivorship educational self-management interventions for cancer survivors in a primary care context. Findings from this trial will inform successful implementation and engagement strategies for longer-term, post-treatment cancer survivors managed in primary care settings.

Trial registration: Registered August 1, 2017 at ClinicalTrials.gov , trial # NCT03233555.

Keywords: Cancer survivorship; Electronic health (eHealth); Health coaching intervention; Oncology; Primary care; Randomized controlled trial; Self-management.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Cancer Survivors*
  • Clinical Protocols*
  • Humans
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Primary Health Care / methods
  • Primary Health Care / standards
  • Recurrence
  • Research Design*
  • Self-Management
  • Survivors*
  • Survivorship

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03233555