Pain and depression are two of the most prevalent and treatable cancer-related symptoms, yet frequently go unrecognized and/or undertreated.
To determine whether centralized telephone-based care management coupled with automated symptom monitoring can improve depression and pain in cancer patients.
Design, Setting, and Patients
Randomized controlled trial conducted in 16 community-based urban and rural oncology practices across the state of Indiana. Recruitment occurred from March 2006 through August 2008 and follow-up concluded in August 2009. The 405 patients had depression (Patient Health Questionnaire-9 score ≥ 10), cancer-related pain (Brief Pain Inventory worst pain score ≥ 6), or both.
Patients were randomly assigned to the intervention (n=202) or to usual care (n=203), stratified by symptom type. Intervention patients received centralized telecare management by a nurse-physician specialist team coupled with automated home-based symptom monitoring by interactive voice recording or internet.
Main Outcome Measures
Blinded assessment at baseline, 1, 3, 6, and 12 months for depression (20-item Hopkins Symptom Checklist [HSCL-20]) and pain (Brief Pain Inventory [BPI]) severity.
There were 131 patients enrolled with depression only, 96 with pain only, and 178 with both depression and pain. Of the 274 patients enrolled for pain, the 137 intervention patients had greater improvements than the 137 usual care patients in BPI pain severity over the 12 months of the trial whether measured as a continuous severity score or as a categorical pain responder (P < .0001 for both). Similarly, of the 309 patients enrolled for depression, the 154 intervention patients had greater improvements than the 155 usual care patients in HSCL-20 depression severity over the 12 months of the trial whether measured as a continuous severity score (P < .0001) or as a categorical depression responder (P < .001). The standardized effect size for between-group differences at 3 and 12 months was .67 and .39 for pain, and .42 and .44 for depression.
Centralized telecare management coupled with automated symptom monitoring resulted in improved pain and depression outcomes in cancer patients receiving care in geographically-dispersed urban and rural oncology practices.
Keywords: cancer, pain, depression, antidepressants, analgesics, telemedicine, care management