Attitudes of australian patients undergoing treatment for upper gastrointestinal cancers to different models of nutrition care delivery: Qualitative investigation

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Background: Adults diagnosed with cancers of the stomach, esophagus, and pancreas are at high risk of malnutrition. In many hospital-based health care settings, there is a lack of systems in place to provide the early and intensive nutritional support that is required by these high-risk cancer patients. Our research team conducted a 3-arm parallel randomized controlled trial to test the provision of an early and intensive nutrition intervention to patients with upper gastrointestinal cancers using a synchronous telephone-based delivery approach versus an asynchronous mobile app-based approach delivered using an iPad compared with a control group to address this issue. Objective: This study aims to explore the overall acceptability of an early and intensive eHealth nutrition intervention delivered either via a synchronous telephone-based approach or an asynchronous mobile app-based approach. Methods: Patients who were newly diagnosed with upper gastrointestinal cancer and who consented to participate in a nutrition intervention were recruited. In-depth, semistructured qualitative interviews were conducted by telephone and transcribed verbatim. Data were analyzed using deductive thematic analysis using the Theoretical Framework of Acceptability in NVivo Pro 12 Plus. Results: A total of 20 participants were interviewed, 10 from each intervention group (synchronous or asynchronous delivery). Four major themes emerged from the qualitative synthesis: Participants' self-efficacy, low levels of burden, and intervention comprehension were required for intervention effectiveness and positive affect; participants sought a sense of support and security through relationship building and rapport with their dietitian; knowledge acquisition and learning-enabled empowerment through self-management; and convenience, flexibility, and bridging the gap to hard-to-reach individuals. Conclusions: Features of eHealth models of nutrition care delivered via telephone and mobile app can be acceptable to those undergoing treatment for upper gastrointestinal cancer. Convenience, knowledge acquisition, improved self-management, and support were key benefits for the participants. Future interventions should focus on home-based interventions delivered with simple, easy-to-use technology. Providing participants with a choice of intervention delivery mode (synchronous or asynchronous) and allowing them to make individual choices that align to their individual values and capabilities may support improved outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere23979
Number of pages13
JournalJMIR Formative Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Cancer
  • Mobile phone
  • Nutrition
  • Qualitative
  • Upper gastrointestinal

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