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This article is the author's final published version in JMIR Formative Research, Volume 7, Issue 1, 2023, Article number e46128.

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Copyright © Sameh Gomaa, James Posey, Babar Bashir, Atrayee Basu Mallick, Eleanor Vanderklok, Max Schnoll, Tingting Zhan, Kuang-Yi Wen


BACKGROUND: Outpatient chemotherapy often leaves patients to grapple with a range of complex side effects at home. Leveraging tailored evidence-based content to monitor and manage these symptoms remains an untapped potential among patients with gastrointestinal (GI) cancer.

OBJECTIVE: This study aims to bridge the gap in outpatient chemotherapy care by integrating a cutting-edge text messaging system with a chatbot interface. This approach seeks to enable real-time monitoring and proactive management of side effects in patients with GI cancer undergoing intravenous chemotherapy.

METHODS: Real-Time Chemotherapy-Associated Side Effects Monitoring Supportive System (RT-CAMSS) was developed iteratively, incorporating patient-centered inputs and evidence-based information. It synthesizes chemotherapy knowledge, self-care symptom management skills, emotional support, and healthy lifestyle recommendations. In a single-arm 2-month pilot study, patients with GI cancer undergoing chemotherapy received tailored intervention messages thrice a week and a weekly Patient-Reported Outcomes Version of the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events-based symptom assessment via a chatbot interface. Baseline and postintervention patient surveys and interviews were conducted.

RESULTS: Out of 45 eligible patients, 34 were enrolled (76% consent rate). The mean age was 61 (SD 12) years, with 19 (56%) being females and 21 (62%) non-Hispanic White. The most common cancer type was pancreatic (n=18, 53%), followed by colon (n=12, 35%) and stomach (n=4, 12%). In total, 27 (79% retention rate) participants completed the postintervention follow-up. In total, 20 patients texted back at least once to seek additional information, with the keyword "chemo" or "support" texted the most. Among those who used the chatbot system checker, fatigue emerged as the most frequently reported symptom (n=15), followed by neuropathy (n=7). Adjusted for multiple comparisons, patients engaging with the platform exhibited significantly improved Patient Activation Measure (3.70, 95% CI -6.919 to -0.499; P=.02). Postintervention interviews and satisfaction surveys revealed that participants found the intervention was user-friendly and were provided with valuable information.

CONCLUSIONS: Capitalizing on mobile technology communication holds tremendous scalability for enhancing health care services. This study presents initial evidence of the engagement and acceptability of RT-CAMSS, warranting further evaluation in a controlled clinical trial setting.

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