Patient Educational Technologies (PET) and their use by Patients Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer

Published on June 20, 2011

June 2011

A research study co-authored by Dr. Kevin Carlson MD, Dr. Richard Baverstock MD, and Dr. Trafford Crump PhD, was presented by Dr. Crump at the International Society for Shared Decision Making (ISDM) Annual Meeting in Maastricht, The Netherlands on June 19, 2011. The study examined the use of an internet-based medical information tool developed by Dr. Carlson by men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Background: Patient education is a vital part of successful shared decision making between health care provider and patient. Conventional educational materials have included pamphlets or non-interactive videos, providing limited feedback to providers as to their use. Information technology (IT), however, offers opportunities for more interactive platforms and a richer understanding of the effectiveness of these tools. The purpose of this study is to better understand how patients interact with Patient Educational Technology (PET) aimed at informing them about their treatment options for prostate cancer.

Design and Methods: A PET library was developed for prostate cancer, including separate modules for different treatment options. The PET library content was developed by a committee of urologists using systematic reviews and updated with current evidence as necessary. Content generally includes a description of the intervention, its potential harms and benefits, and any ongoing care needed after the intervention. Data generated from patients’ use of PET feed into providers’ electronic medical record. The PET library was made freely available to the patient population of two urologists in Calgary, Canada between 2008 and 2011.

Results: Every patient (~300) was referred and given access to the PET library using a unique identifier. Over 50% of those logged in to the PET library and viewed at least one module for more than two minutes. The number of modules viewed by patients and the length of time (minutes) they were viewed were recorded. Data is currently being analysed as to the number of slides viewed within each module; the number of patients that returned to re-view a module; the span of time (days) that the PET library was accessed; and how these relate, if at all, to the ultimate treatment decision.

Conclusion: When referred, a number of patients diagnosed with prostate cancer engage with PETs on an ongoing basis between the time of diagnosis and time of treatment. Understanding how patients engage with these types of technologies is an important step in developing more useful PETs; tools that hold the potential to provide an effective and inexpensive means to improve shared decision making on a broad scale.