Article Abstract

Approach to offering remote support to mesothelioma patients: the mesothelioma survivor project

Authors: Gleneara E. Bates, Anisah K. Hashmi, Toby Bressler, Jill Zajac, Mary Hesdorffer, Robert N. Taub

Abstract

Background: From the moment of diagnosis, malignant mesothelioma (MM) decreases health-related quality of life (QOL) in patients and their caregivers. In addition to symptoms of disease, aggressive treatments such as surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy can cause extreme side effects—chemotherapy specifically is associated with chronic fatigue, unremitting nausea, vomiting, and systemic pain. These side effects of treatments can be burdensome enough to lead to noncompliance or outright refusal of continuation of care.
Methods: The platform for the support group was remote, consisting of online and telephone domains. Participants would utilize both online and phone systems during sessions held once a week for a total of six weeks. Sessions were guided and kept closed, available only to those affected by mesothelioma. Follow-up information and session summaries were provided online after support meetings.
Results: Using a 0–5 Likert Scale, consistent attendees reported support groups as very helpful. Irregular attendees had mixed feelings ranging from extremely helpful to neutral. Eighty per cent of attendees participated in support groups prior to this project.
Conclusions: Active participation in a guided and closed support group allowed participants to share their experiences and concerns about their diagnoses comfortably, supporting transition beyond active-treatment. Online space gave participants a place to provide more reflective responses outside the main dialogue of support sessions.