Text message services offer a low-cost, noninvasive way to help breast cancer survivors post-treatment. They are effective for improving patient–healthcare provider communication.
The effects of breast cancer treatment on women’s mental and physical health can linger for years after treatment has ended. Structured post-treatment support is limited and available services are inaccessible to many patients due to in-person delivery limiting attendance for those in rural and isolated areas and/or those with employment, family, financial, or mobility challenges. Text message interventions are an emerging method for providing remote health support. According to research, such programs are helpful for enhancing a variety of mental and physical health outcomes.
This study was published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship to assess the reach, utility, acceptability, and factors influencing engagement with a lifestyle-focused text message intervention to promote women’s mental and physical health following breast cancer treatment.
This study employed a mixed-methods process evaluation embedded within the randomized controlled trial EMPOWER-SMS (n = 160; intervention n = 80, control n = 80). The framework-based theme summary was derived from screening logs, text message delivery software analytics, intervention feedback surveys, and focus groups (n = 16).
The majority of intervention participants (64/80; 80%) completed the end-of-study questionnaire, and they indicated that the messages were simple to comprehend (64/64; 100%), useful (58/64; 91%), and inspiring (43/64; 66%). Focus groups (n = 16) uncovered five elements that influence engagement: (i) sentiments of support/continued care, (ii) convenience/flexibility of message delivery, (iii) weblinks, (iv) information from a reliable source, and (v) the ability to keep or share messages. It was also reported that text messaging may be an obstacle for women over 68. Suggestions for improving the program included delivery of the program to patients with various cancers, at all phases of therapy, and adding more weblinks to text messages.
This study concluded that a lifestyle-focused text message program was acceptable and beneficial for breast cancer survivors. Moreover, text message services offer a low-cost, noninvasive method of delivering post-treatment health assistance to breast cancer survivors. Text messages can increase communication between patients and healthcare professionals and have been deemed acceptable and useful.
Text message programs can help promote healthy behaviors in patients with chronic diseases in various countries and in different languages. However, more research is needed to determine their cost-effectiveness for patients with breast cancer. 
Singleton, A. C., Raeside, R., Partridge, S. R., Tat-Ko, J., Che Mun Sum, S., Hyun, K. K., Hayes, M., Chow, C. K., Thiagalingam, A., Maka, K., Sherman, K. A., Elder, E., & Redfern, J. (2022). Supporting breast cancer survivors via text messages: reach, acceptability, and utility of EMPOWER-SMS. Journal of Cancer Survivorship, 16(6), 1165-1175. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11764-021-01106-7