OBJECTIVE: This review sought to summarize existing knowledge to inform the development of an online intervention that aims to improve quality of life after cancer treatment.
METHODS: To inform our intervention, we searched for studies relating to Web-based interventions designed to improve quality of life in adults who have completed primary treatment for breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer (as these are 3 of the most common cancers and impact a large number of cancer survivors). We included a variety of study designs (qualitative research, feasibility/pilot trials, randomized trials, and process evaluations) and extracted all available information regarding intervention characteristics, experiences, and outcomes. Data were synthesized as textual (qualitative) data and analyzed by using thematic analysis.
RESULTS: Fifty-seven full text articles were assessed for eligibility, and 16 papers describing 9 interventions were analyzed. Our findings suggest that cancer survivors value interventions that offer content specific to their changing needs and are delivered at the right stage of the cancer trajectory. Social networking features do not always provide added benefit, and behavior change techniques need to be implemented carefully to avoid potential negative consequences for some users.
CONCLUSIONS: Future work should aim to identify appropriate strategies for promoting health behavior change, as well as the optimal stage of cancer survivorship to facilitate intervention delivery.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: The development of Web-based interventions for cancer survivors requires further exploration to better understand how interventions can be carefully designed to match this group's unique needs and capabilities. User involvement during development may help to ensure that interventions are accessible, perceived as useful, and appropriate for challenges faced at different stages of the cancer survivorship trajectory.