Self-monitoring of Physical Activity After Hospital Discharge in Patients Who Have Undergone Gastrointestinal or Lung Cancer Surgery: Mixed Methods Feasibility Study

JMIR Cancer. 2022 Jun 24;8(2):e35694. doi: 10.2196/35694.


Background: Self-monitoring of physical activity (PA) using an accelerometer is a promising intervention to stimulate PA after hospital discharge.

Objective: This study aimed to evaluate the feasibility of PA self-monitoring after discharge in patients who have undergone gastrointestinal or lung cancer surgery.

Methods: A mixed methods study was conducted in which 41 patients with cancer scheduled for lobectomy, esophageal resection, or hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy were included. Preoperatively, patients received an ankle-worn accelerometer and the corresponding mobile health app to familiarize themselves with its use. The use was continued for up to 6 weeks after surgery. Feasibility criteria related to the study procedures, the System Usability Scale, and user experiences were established. In addition, 6 patients were selected to participate in semistructured interviews.

Results: The percentage of patients willing to participate in the study (68/90, 76%) and the final participation rate (57/90, 63%) were considered good. The retention rate was acceptable (41/57, 72%), whereas the rate of missing accelerometer data was relatively high (31%). The mean System Usability Scale score was good (77.3). Interviewed patients mentioned that the accelerometer and app were easy to use, motivated them to be more physically active, and provided postdischarge support. The technical shortcomings and comfort of the ankle straps should be improved.

Conclusions: Self-monitoring of PA after discharge appears to be feasible based on good system usability and predominantly positive user experiences in patients with cancer after lobectomy, esophageal resection, or hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy. Solving technical problems and improving the comfort of the ankle strap may reduce the number of dropouts and missing data in clinical use and follow-up studies.

Keywords: cancer; fitness trackers; mobile phone; physical activity; physical therapy; self-monitoring; telemedicine.