A program using telehealth services was found to ease pain and reduce depression in cancer patients more than traditional care, according to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Pain and depression are the two most common physical and psychological systems in cancer patients, drastically affecting the quality of life for those with the disease. Of the study's 405 volunteers, 131 patients had depression, 96 had pain and 178 had both symptoms at the start of the program.
The study split the cancer patients, who hailed from 16 different rural and urban care hospitals, into two groups. One group received traditional care involving screenings and meetings with an oncologist at a cancer treatment facility, while the other group received automated symptom monitoring from home via interactive voice recordings, as well as telecare management via video conferencing from a team of nurses and doctors.
Both the 203 patients in the traditional group and the 202 patients in the telehealth group were evaluated for pain and depression at one month, three months, six months and one year into the study.
At the end of the study, those involved in the telecare group reported significantly lower levels of pain and depression than those in the traditional care group.
Many hospitals are beginning to recognize the benefits of telehealth, which is convenient for patients who have difficulty getting to the hospital for health or distance reasons. The Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Cheyenne, Wyoming, has already begun testing telehealth services at many of its clinics, and many hospitals in Australia, a rural country where hundreds of miles may stand between a patient and a hospital, have adopted the technology.