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Text Messaging (SMS) Helping Cancer Care in Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy Treatment: a Pilot Study


Cancer treatment is an extremely stressful life experience that is accompanied by a range of psychological, social, physical, and practical difficulties. Cancer patients need to receive information that helps them to better understand the disease, assists them in decision-making, and helps them deal with treatment. Patients are interested in receiving such information. The degree of satisfaction with the information received has been associated with positive health outcomes, specifically regarding quality of life, severity of side effects, and psychological well-being. This study investigates a method of guiding cancer patients, in relation to outpatient chemotherapy treatment, using SMS (short message service) text messaging. A smartphone application called cHEmotHErApp was developed, and its primary function is to send out SMS text messages with guidance for self-care and emotional support for oncology patients undergoing chemotherapy. Thus, the main objective of this study is to evaluate the acceptance and perception of patients of the receipt of these SMS messages, as well as to evaluate the possible benefits reported by the participants. Adult patients diagnosed with cancer, who started the first outpatient chemotherapy treatment scheme between August and November 2016 at the School Hospital (HE) of the Federal University of Pelotas (UFPel), were invited to participate in this pilot study. In total, 14 cancer patients were adherent to this study. Each of these patients received a daily text message on their cell phone with some guidance on encouraging self-care and emotional support. Patients reported that, because of the SMS text messages they received, they felt more confident in their treatment, felt more supported and encouraged, and that the text messages facilitated self-care. In addition, patients reported that the SMS text messages they received helped them to take better care of themselves and to continue further treatment.

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Correspondence to Timóteo Matthies Rico.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Mobile & Wireless Health

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Rico, T.M., dos Santos Machado, K., Fernandes, V.P. et al. Text Messaging (SMS) Helping Cancer Care in Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy Treatment: a Pilot Study. J Med Syst 41, 181 (2017).

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  • Intervention
  • Self-care
  • Text messages
  • Patient education
  • Cancer care