To evaluate the implementation of a web-based system of screening for symptoms and needs in people with diverse cancers in a general hospital in Australia.
This was a prospective, single-arm, pragmatic intervention study. After local adaptation of an online portal and training, cancer nurses were asked to register patients to screen via the portal in clinic or at home. Symptoms were scored according to severity, and scores above cut-off were reported to nurses for assessment and management, according to best practice.
Fifteen nurses working across diverse tumour types agreed to approach patients for screening. Of these, 7 nurses approached 68 patients, with 5 approaching more than 1 during the 7-month study period. Forty-seven (69%) patients completed screening, and 22 rescreened at least once. At first screening, 33 (70%) patients reported at least one symptom, most commonly tiredness (n = 27; 57%), reduced wellbeing (n = 24; 51%) and drowsiness (n = 17; 36%). Of the total 75 screens undertaken during the study, 56 (75%) identified at least one symptom, and 22 (29%) identified at least one severe symptom. All patients with a positive first screen were followed up by a nurse assessment and intervention—mostly reassurance (n = 19, 59%) or referral to another health professional (n = 11, 34%).
Screening for symptoms and needs using a web-based portal identified many unmet needs, but the uptake of this intervention by nurses and patients was lower than expected.