Nutritional Online Information for Cancer Patients: a Randomized Trial of an Internet Communication Plus Social Media Intervention

Patrizia Gnagnarella, Alessandro Maria Misotti, Luigi Santoro, Demosthenes Akoumianakis, Laura Del Campo, Francesco De Lorenzo, Claudio Lombardo, Giannis Milolidakis, Richard Sullivan, Gordon Mcvie

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We hypothesized that cancer patients using an Internet website would show an improvement in the knowledge about healthy eating habits, and this might be enhanced by social media interaction. A 6-month randomized intervention was set up. Eligible subjects were allocated in intervention (IG) and control groups (CG). IG had access to the website, and CG was provided with printed versions. All enrolled participants filled in Nutrition Questionnaire (NQ), Quality of Life Questionnaire (QoL) and Psychological Distress Inventory (PDI), at baseline and after 6 months. The difference between post- vs pre-questionnaires was calculated. Seventy-four subjects (CG 39; IG 35) completed the study. There was an increase in the score after the intervention in both groups for the NQ, even if not statistically significant. Dividing the IG into three categories, no (NI), low (LI) and high interactions (HI), we found a decreased score (improvement) in the CG (-0.2) and in the HI (-1.7), and an increased score (worsening) in the NI (+3.3) (p = NS) analysing the PDI. We found an increased score in the QoL both in CG and IG (adjusted LSMeans +3.5 and +2.8 points, respectively; p = NS). This study represents an example for support cancer patients. Despite the lack of significant effects, critical points and problems encountered may be of interest to researchers and organization working in the cancer setting. Intervention strategies to support patients during the care process are needed in order to attain the full potential of patient-centred care on cancer outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)472-80
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016


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