Telerehabilitation’s Safety, Feasibility, and Exercise Uptake in Cancer Survivors: Process Evaluation
journal contributionposted on 2022-01-24, 00:45 authored by Amy DennettAmy Dennett, Katherine HardingKatherine Harding, J Reimert, Rebecca MorrisRebecca Morris, P Parente, Nicholas TaylorNicholas Taylor
Background: Access to exercise for cancer survivors is poor despite global recognition of its benefits. Telerehabilitation may overcome barriers to exercise for cancer survivors but is not routinely offered. Objective: Following the rapid implementation of an exercise-based telerehabilitation program in response to COVID-19, a process evaluation was conducted to understand the impact on patients, staff, and the health service with the aim of informing future program development. Methods: A mixed methods evaluation was completed for a telerehabilitation program for cancer survivors admitted between March and December 2020. Interviews were conducted with patients and staff involved in implementation. Routinely collected hospital data (adverse events, referrals, admissions, wait time, attendance, physical activity, and quality of life) were also assessed. Patients received an 8-week telerehabilitation intervention including one-on-one health coaching via telehealth, online group exercise and education, information portal, and home exercise prescription. Quantitative data were reported descriptively, and qualitative interview data were coded and mapped to the Proctor model for implementation research. Results: The telerehabilitation program received 175 new referrals over 8 months. Of those eligible, 123 of 150 (82%) commenced the study. There were no major adverse events. Adherence to health coaching was high (674/843, 80% of scheduled sessions), but participation in online group exercise classes was low (n=36, 29%). Patients improved their self-reported physical activity levels by a median of 110 minutes per week (IQR 90-401) by program completion. Patients were satisfied with telerehabilitation, but clinicians reported a mixed experience of pride in rapid care delivery contrasting with loss of personal connections. The average health service cost per patient was Aus $1104 (US $790). Conclusions: Telerehabilitation is safe, feasible, and improved outcomes for cancer survivors. Learnings from this study may inform the ongoing implementation of cancer telerehabilitation.