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13-06-2020 | Special Section: Feedback Tools Open Access

Patient experiences of an electronic PRO tailored feedback system for symptom management following upper gastrointestinal cancer surgery

Quality of Life Research
H. S. Richards, A. Portal, K. Absolom, J. M. Blazeby, G. Velikova, K. N. L. Avery
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s11136-020-02539-w) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorised users.

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Complications following upper gastrointestinal (UGI) surgery are common. Symptom-monitoring following discharge is not standardized. An electronic patient-reported outcome (ePRO) system providing feedback to patients and clinicians could support patients and improve outcomes. Little is known about patients’ experiences of using such systems. This qualitative sub-study explored patients’ perspectives of the benefits of using a novel ePRO system, developed as part of the mixed methods eRAPID pilot study, to support recovery following discharge after UGI surgery.


Patients completed the online ePRO symptom-report system post-discharge. Weekly interviews explored patients’ experiences of using ePRO, the acceptability of feedback generated and its value for supporting their recovery. Interviews were audio-recorded and targeted transcriptions were thematically analysed.


Thirty-five interviews with 16 participants (11 men, mean age 63 years) were analysed. Two main themes were identified: (1) reassurance and (2) empowerment. Feelings of isolation were common; many patients felt uninformed regarding their expectations of recovery and whether their symptoms warranted clinical investigation. Participants were reassured by tailored feedback advising them to contact their care team, alleviating their anxiety. Patients reported feeling empowered by the ePRO system and in control of their symptoms and recovery.


Patients recovering at home following major cancer surgery regarded electronic symptom-monitoring and feedback as acceptable and beneficial. Patients perceived that the system enhanced information provision and provided a direct link to their care team. Patients felt that the system provided reassurance at a time of uncertainty and isolation, enabling them to feel in control of their symptoms and recovery.

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