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This article is the author’s final published version in Journal of Medical Internet Research, Volume 22, Issue 3, March 2020, Article number e12689.

The published version is available at Copyright © Tran et al.

Publication made possible in part by support from the Thomas Jefferson University + Philadelphia University Open Access Fund


Background: Measuring patient-reported outcomes (PROs) requires an individual’s perspective on their symptoms, functional status, and quality of life. Digital health enables remote electronic PRO (ePRO) assessments as a clinical decision support tool to facilitate meaningful provider interactions and personalized treatment.

Objective: This study explored the feasibility and acceptability of collecting ePROs using validated health-related quality of life (HRQoL) questionnaires for prostate cancer.

Methods: Using Apple ResearchKit software, the Strength Through Insight app was created with content from validated HRQoL tools 26-item Expanded Prostate Cancer Index Composite (EPIC) or EPIC for Clinical Practice and 8-item Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy Advanced Prostate Symptom Index. In a single-arm pilot study with patients receiving prostate cancer treatment at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and affiliates, participants were recruited, and instructed to download Strength Through Insight and complete ePROs once a week over 12 weeks. A mixed methods approach, including qualitative pre- and poststudy interviews, was used to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of Strength Through Insight for the collection and care management of cancer treatment.

Results: Thirty patients consented to the study; 1 patient failed to complete any of the questionnaires and was left out of the analysis of the intervention. Moreover, 86% (25/29) reached satisfactory questionnaire completion (defined as completion of 60% of weekly questions over 12 weeks). The lower bound of the exact one-sided 95% CI was 71%, exceeding the 70% feasibility threshold. Most participants self-identified with having a high digital literacy level (defined as the ability to use, understand, evaluate, and analyze information from multiple formats from a variety of digital sources), and only a few participants identified with having a low digital literacy level (defined as only having the ability to gather information on the Web). Interviews were thematically analyzed to reveal the following: (1) value of emotional support and wellness in cancer treatment, (2) rise of social patient advocacy in online patient communities and networks, (3) patient concerns over privacy, and (4) desire for personalized engagement tools.

Conclusions: Strength Through Insight was demonstrated as a feasible and acceptable method of data collection for ePROs. A high compliance rate confirmed the app as a reliable tool for patients with localized and advanced prostate cancer. Nearly all participants reported that using the smartphone app is easier than or equivalent to the traditional paper-and-pen approach, providing evidence of acceptability and support for the use of remote PRO monitoring. This study expands on current research involving the value of digital health, as a social and behavioral science, augmented with technology, can begin to contribute to population health management, as it shapes psychographic segmentation by demographic, socioeconomic, health condition, or behavioral factors to group patients by their distinct personalities and motivations, which influence their choices.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.