Cancer patients at Guy’s and St Thomas’ are more likely to highlight concerns and anxieties about their health when contacted by text message than other methods, a new paper has shown.

More than 600 patients completed an online evaluation of their concerns after getting a cancer diagnosis. 

They were twice as likely to say that they felt worried, fearful or anxious about their health, compared to those who did the survey in-person or on the phone with a member of clinical staff.

Nikki Cannon, transformation lead for cancer survivorship at Guy’s and St Thomas’, led the study Delivering personalised cancer care during COVID-19: Text eHNA

Holistic needs assessment

All patients diagnosed with cancer complete a holistic needs assessment with their nurse or healthcare professional as part of their personalised care at Guy’s Cancer. 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, this was usually completed in-person at a clinic appointment.

However, as many appointments went virtual, staff looked for innovative ways to continue supporting patients.

An electronic holistic needs assessment was set up, with patients contacted by text message and asked to complete the short questionnaire online in their own time. 

Staff then called them to talk about their care plan in more detail.

Since April 2020, more than 650 holistic needs assessments were sent to patients by text message, with 80 per cent completed by patients across 11 different tumour groups.

Initial analysis of the results has shown patients have highlighted greater concerns when completing the questionnaires in their own time, from their own homes. 

Staff are working with patient groups to understand more about why this is the case.

Guy's and St Thomas'