A Novel Remote Follow-Up Tool Based on an Instant Messaging/Social Media App for the Management of Patients With Low Anterior Resection Syndrome: Pilot Prospective Self-Control Study

JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2021 Mar 19;9(3):e22647. doi: 10.2196/22647.


Background: Low anterior resection syndrome (LARS) is a common functional disorder that develops after patients with rectal cancer undergo anal preservation surgery. Common approaches to assess the symptoms of patients with LARS are often complex and time-consuming. Instant messaging/social media has great application potential in LARS follow-up, but has been underdeveloped.

Objective: The aim of this study was to compare data between a novel instant messaging/social media follow-up system and a telephone interview in patients with LARS and to analyze the consistency of the instant messaging/social media platform.

Methods: Patients with R0 resectable rectal cancer who accepted several defecation function visits via the instant messaging/social media platform and agreed to a telephone interview after the operation using the same questionnaire including subjective questions and LARS scores were included. Differences between the 2 methods were analyzed in pairs and the diagnostic consistency of instant messaging/social media was calculated based on telephone interview results.

Results: In total, 21 questionnaires from 15 patients were included. The positive rates of defecation dissatisfaction, life restriction, and medication use were 10/21 (48%), 11/21 (52%), and 8/21 (38%) for telephone interview and 10/21 (48%), 13/21 (62%), and 5/21 (24%) for instant messaging/social media, respectively. No statistically significant difference was observed between instant messaging/social media and telephone interview in terms of total LARS score (mean 22.4 [SD 11.9] vs mean 24.7 [SD 10.7], P<.21) and LARS categories (Z=-0.264, P=.79); however, instant messaging/social media showed a more negative tendency. The kappa values of 3 subjective questions were 0.618, 0.430, and 0.674, respectively. The total LARS scores were consistent between both groups (Pearson coefficient 0.760, P<.001; category correlation coefficient 0.570, P=.005). Patients with major LARS had highly consistent results, with sensitivity, specificity, kappa value, and P value of 77.8%, 91.7%, 0.704, and .001, respectively.

Conclusions: Instant messaging/social media can be a major LARS screening method. However, further research on information accuracy and user acceptance is needed before implementing a mature system.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03009747; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03009747.

Keywords: follow-up; instant messaging social media; low anterior resection syndrome; rectal cancer; telephone interview.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rectal Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Self-Control*
  • Social Media*
  • Syndrome

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03009747