Despite the growing accessibility of online interactive support services, many cancer patients still do not engage with these services. The study aimed to identify (as part of a three-arm randomised controlled trial) the proportion of participants in each intervention arm (telephone versus online) who engaged with the intervention.
288 newly diagnosed lung cancer patients were recruited from 31 cancer services and randomly allocated to receive telephone support, online support or a booklet from Cancer Council NSW. Following randomisation, participants were sent a letter notifying them of their allocation. A trained oncology nurse consultant attempted to conduct one or more outbound phone call/s with telephone arm participants. For online arm participants, a reminder email and phone calls were conducted to encourage service engagement. Data extracted from Cancer Council databases were used to assess engagement with the telephone and online arms.
The proportion of participants who engaged with the telephone or online chat service and degree of engagement are reported. Of 388 participants assessed as eligible, 307 (78%) completed baseline and were randomised to one of the study arms. The proportion of participants engaging with the telephone intervention was 75%, while 9% of those allocated to the online arm engaged with the intervention.
Levels of engagement with online support are relatively low. Further study data will be used to identify the patient factors affecting engagement with telephone and online support services.