, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 392-401
Date: 24 Jul 2013

A systematic review of eHealth cancer prevention and control interventions: new technology, same methods and designs?

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Abstract

There has been a recent surge of eHealth programs in cancer and other content areas, but few reviews have focused on the methodologies and designs employed in these studies. We conducted a systematic review of studies on eHealth interventions on cancer prevention and control published between 2001 and 2010 applying the Pragmatic Explanatory Continuum Indicator Summary (PRECIS) criteria and external validity components from the Reach Effectiveness Adoption Implementation Maintenance (RE-AIM) framework. We identified 113 studies that focused on cancer prevention and control of eHealth interventions. Most studies fell midway along the explanatory/pragmatic trial continuum, but few reported on various practical feasibility criteria for translation. Despite vast interest in cancer eHealth and the applied nature of this field, few studies considered key external validity issues. There is a need for use of alternative pragmatic study designs and transparent reporting of external validity components to produce more rapid and generalizable results.

Implications

Practice: Practitioners should look for and expect research reports to provide transparent information to make it possible to determine whether an eHealth program is possible to implement in their setting.
Policy: eHealth journals and grant funding organizations should encourage more transparent reporting on issues related to translation and external validity.
Research: Researchers should more consistently report on PRECIS criteria and other factors related to translation.