Evaluation of a survivorship needs assessment planning tool for head and neck cancer survivor-caregiver dyads



The objectives of this study were to test the acceptability and feasibility of a survivorship needs assessment planning (SNAP) tool for head and neck cancer (HNC) survivors and caregivers, evaluate short-term changes in psychosocial outcomes after completing the SNAP session, and develop strategies for system refinement.


We used a prospective one-group design and mixed methods with HNC survivors and caregivers (N = 25 dyads). Participants completed baseline and 6-week surveys before and after completing a SNAP clinic visit to assess psychosocial outcomes and acceptability. Intervention sessions included tablet-based needs assessments driving tailored care plans. Dyads’ open-ended feedback and clinician interviews (N = 12) evaluated acceptability and feasibility.


SNAP data collection time burden and technology challenges were minimal, and care plans included messages (M = 19), educational materials (M = 13), and referrals (M = 4.5; 86% behavioral medicine, 77% nutrition, 65% physical therapy). Participants reported high satisfaction with the session and care plan, highlighting the key strengths of pulling complex medical information together and the focus on caregiver well-being, with multiple suggestions to facilitate clinic workflow. Depression and unmet needs decreased and survivorship knowledge increased significantly in survivors and caregivers (p < .05) over the 6-week period.


The SNAP tool is an innovative technology-based survivor-centered strategy to assess and manage needs in HNC survivors and caregivers. Results support its acceptability and ability to address dyads’ needs; the tool merits further testing in a clinical trial.

Implications for Cancer Survivors

Technology-enabled care planning may be a productive way to assess and address HNC dyads’ dynamic needs after treatment.

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This research was funded by the National Cancer Institute (grant no. 1R21CA173271) with support from the South Carolina Clinical and Translational Research Institute (UL1TR000062) and the Biostatistics Shared Resource of the Hollings Cancer Center (P30 CA138313) and technology development by the Technology Applications Center for Healthful Lifestyles at the Medical University of South Carolina. Katherine Sterba’s work on this manuscript was also supported by a Mentored Research Scholar Grant in Applied and Clinical Research (MRSG-12-221-01-CPPB) from the American Cancer Society.

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Sterba, K.R., Armeson, K., Zapka, J. et al. Evaluation of a survivorship needs assessment planning tool for head and neck cancer survivor-caregiver dyads. J Cancer Surviv 13, 117–129 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11764-019-0732-1

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  • Head and neck cancer
  • Survivorship
  • Patient-reported outcomes
  • Dyads