Adapting to the burdens of care: a telehealth program for cancer survivors with ostomies

Matthew C. Rock, Zuleyha Cidav, Virginia Sun, Elizabeth Ercolano, Mark C. Hornbrook, Christopher S. Wendel, Julia Mo, Harrison Fellheimer, Ruth McCorkle, Michael Holcomb, Marcia Grant, Ronald S. Weinstein, Robert S. Krouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: An ostomy introduces to cancer survivors new demands for self-care and healthcare resource use. A curriculum that teaches ostomates self-management skills may affect survivors’ use of resources. Methods: A prospective randomized trial comparing usual care (UC) with an Ostomy Self-Management Training (OSMT) program delivered by telehealth was conducted in patients with ostomies due to cancer. The intervention occurred over 5 weeks with survey administration at baseline, program completion, and 6 months after completion. Quantitative data were analyzed using a mixed-effects logistic model to predict mean values of resource and service use. Responses to the open-ended question were coded and analyzed with directed content analysis. Results: One hundred and sixty-seven subjects (89 in the OSMT arm and 78 in the UC arm) completed the questionnaire at all time points. The changes in likelihoods of emptying one’s ostomy bag > 8 times/week and of incurring any out-of-pocket costs on accessories were 14% greater for the intervention group (p =.029 and p =.063, respectively). Qualitative analysis reveals among the OSMT arm an increase in the proportion of ostomy-specific comments and a decrease in the same metric among the UC arm. Common themes included learning to work with equipment, dealing with gas build-up and finding well-fitting clothing. Conclusions: There are some indications that participants in this structured telehealth program are more active in ostomy self-care. The reported ostomy self-care activities, healthcare consumables, and healthcare services reported by both groups illustrate the complexity of survivorship care following ostomy surgery. National Clinical Trial Identifier: NCT02974634.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number15
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Burdens of care
  • Cancer survivors with ostomies
  • Telehealth program

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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