BIRMINGHAM, Ala., OCTOBER 5, 2020 // Pack Health is scheduled to present findings this week at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Quality Care Symposium for the poster entitled Digital Engagement Preferences of Individuals Aged 65 and Older With Cancer.

Recent reviews suggest that digital solutions play a prominent role in the context of geriatric oncology.  While interventions ranging from remote monitoring to nutrition and physical activity support have demonstrated feasibility in older adults (aged 65 and older), little is known about facilitators and barriers to eHealth uptake in older adults diagnosed with cancer.  Insights into the digital engagement preferences of older adults with cancer may help to inform which platforms may be best aligned to optimal engagement and outcomes.

The aim of this retrospective analysis was to evaluate patient engagement preferences (phone, text, and/or email) among older adults with cancer enrolled in a digital health coaching program.  Exploratory endpoints assessed the relationship between engagement preference and retention, as well as demographic variables, including race.

The majority of individuals (n=308; 60%) preferred information to be provided by phone, email, and text. However, 20% (n=105) requested content by phone and text only.  Less than 10% of the sample requested content via phone only (n=45; 8%), phone and email, (n=31; 6%), email only (n=11, 2%), or by email and text (n=9; 2%). Retention over a three month coaching period was highest among those engaged via phone, text, and email (56.17%), and email only (54.55%). Race was significantly related to engagement preference, with black members twice as likely (p<0.001) to choose phone and text, and three times as likely (p<0.001) to choose phone only compared with white members. However, no differences emerged between race and retention. Participants were highly engaged via phone and text. On average, participants received 11.75 calls and 21.2 text messages. This yielded an average engagement of 116.3 minutes with 8.09 minutes spent per call.

While not prospectively designed to evaluate the feasibility of the intervention specifically for the geriatric oncology population, these data suggest that engagement is possible, particularly when offered across diverse platforms such as call, text, and email. Further, patients displayed a preference for phone conversations when given the option.  This may be important as digital health solutions that rely on an app or other non-human interactions are deployed. Findings demonstrated that engagement preference was associated with differences in retention and race. Therefore, focusing on customizing digital content delivery according to the unique needs, access, and preferences of diverse demographic groups may also affect retention.

For a detailed explanation of the poster, check out the full, virtual presentation by lead author Jonathan Patterson here. The full poster will be available at the ASCO Quality Care Symposium on October 9 – 10. For questions related to the poster or data, contact Kelly Brassil, PhD, RN at