Washington: A new research has suggested that pain and depression associated with cancer – symptoms often unrecognized and under-treated – can be significantly reduced through centralized telephone-based care management coupled with automated symptom monitoring.
Researchers from Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Medicine combined automated calls with follow-up calls from the nurse care manager to reduce pain and depression in cancer patients. Calls were made to individuals with all types of cancers seen by rural and urban community-based oncology physicians.
"Because oncologists are busy with testing, chemotherapy and other treatments, they often have too little time left for quality of life issues, like pain and depression. We felt one solution might be a partnership between a telephone-based symptom management team and community-based oncology practices.
We found that an economical, centralized approach is feasible to conduct and significantly improved symptoms of both depression and pain in patients in any phase of cancer from newly diagnosed to long term to recurrent to cancer free," said Kurt Kroenke, M.D., the study``s principal investigator.
"Technology, in the form of automated calls repeated until an adequate treatment response occurred, allowed us to gather data on symptom severity at a time convenient for the patient, making the process very patient-centered. It also allowed the nurse manager to work at a higher level to improve the quality of life of these cancer patients.
And it gave these patients, many of whom lived in underserved rural areas, one stop assistance they probably wouldn``t have had access to unless they went to a major cancer center," said Kroenke.
The improved outcomes of the patients who received the telephone-based care management and the feasibility of this approach is reported in the July 14, 2010, issue of the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA).