Can we use technology to encourage self-monitoring by people treated for melanoma? A qualitative exploration of the perceptions of potential recipients
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People with melanoma traditionally attend cancer centre-based follow-up. Most recurrences and new primary melanomas are, however, detected by patients between hospital visits. Despite this, total skin self-examination (TSSE) practices are suboptimal. Digital technologies could be used to support TSSE. The attitudes of potential users are unknown; this study aims to explore the attitudes of people with melanoma towards using digital technologies and the effect of personal characteristics on their attitudes.
Twenty-one hospital joint melanoma clinic patients aged 37–83 were purposively recruited. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore patients’ views on the use of digital technology during follow-up and identify barriers or facilitators. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and subject to framework analysis.
Participants had a wide range of IT skills. All used a mobile phone, most had heard of telemedicine and several had used Skype. Participants felt that with thought, tailoring and training, technology could enable self-monitoring as part of melanoma follow-up. Technological benefits included having a co-ordinating nurse specialist, contactable electronically, and having a personalised skin map and tailored information about melanoma. Participants cautioned that technological developments must take account of personal needs and characteristics. Few had security concerns.
People are not currently equipped to undertake self-monitoring as part of their melanoma follow-up, but many would be keen to employ technology to support this. A range of technologies could be utilised with potential benefits. Technologies should be carefully designed and individually tailored, considering age, familiarity with technology, place of residence and time since diagnosis.
KeywordsMelanoma Total skin self-examination Digital technologies Follow-up
The authors wish to thank the interviewees for sharing their thoughts and giving their time to help with this study. The research described here is supported by the award made by the RCUK Digital Economy programme to the dot.rural Digital Economy Hub; award reference: EP/G066051/1.
Conflict of interest
All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest to declare.
The study was approved on the 2nd of May 2012 by the North of Scotland Research Ethics Committee (REC Reference 12/NS/0039).
The University of Aberdeen was the study sponsor.
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