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Empowering patients through education – evaluating an education resource for prostate cancer patients who require post-prostatectomy radiotherapy

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Empowering Patients Through Education: Online Education Resource for Patients  with Prostate Cancer Who May Require Post-prostatectomy Radiotherapy

Eli Lechtman PhD, Ewa Szumacher, MD, MEd, FCRP(C) , Merrylee McGuffin M.R.T.(T.), MSc, Aaron Cumal M.R.T.(T)BSc, Eirena Calabrese RN, Deb Feldman-Stewart PhD, Julie Burnett BA(HONS), BSW, MSW, RSW, Janet Ellis MD, FRCP(C), PhD, Katija Bonin BASc, Lisa Di Prospero M.R.T.(T.), BSc., MSc, Christopher Townsend, Tamara Harth Hon. B.A., MLIS, Janet Kimura, Cara Rice


Post-prostatectomy radiotherapy (RT):
-Prevents recurrence
-Improves biochemical control
-Improves survival

Two different strategies:
1.  Adjuvant (early) RT -> local treatment performed after wounds heal
2.  Salvage (delayed) RT -> local treatment performed at a later time, usually after PSA rises above a minimum threshold
Patients often do not have adequate information to make truly informed treatment decisions regarding post-prostatectomy RT


1)  To develop an evidence-based, interprofessional education resource about post-prostatectomy RT for patients, their families and healthcare providers

2)  To evaluate quality and usefulness of the education resource for prostate cancer patients



Created needs assessment survey to identify education topics through two previous studies:

1) Input from 45 interprofessional genitourinary healthcare experts across Canada (urologists, radiation oncologists, nurses, radiation therapists, and others)

2) Input from 35 prostate cancer patients

Data from previous studies combined to develop 73 essential questions and answers covering broad range of topics related to:

- diagnosis and staging

- treatment options

- potential benefits and risks

- side effects

- psychological issues

- health promotion

- sexual function


- Partnered with mdBriefCase, Canada's leading provider of online Continuing Health Education for healthcare professionals, to implement tool via proven online platform

- Validated content was adapted for eLearning environment on MedSchoolForYou.ca, a new Canadian Patient Education Portal, providing free, credible, Canadian disease education to patients (see screenshots above)

- Study took 2 years to complete

Patient Feedback:

A small group of prostate cancer patients

Mixed method feedback:

1) Qualitative interviews based around the following questions:
-How patients used the material
-Quality of the material
-Did the material meet patient-defined needs
-Demographic information

2)Quantitative Purpose-Based Information Assessment (PIA) survey


Patients’ Feedback:

Most patients (11/12) patients learned new information
All patients found it at least somewhat helpful
At least 67% agreed that all types of help were important or very important
67% of patients found the tool helpful or very helpful for organizing their thoughts, understanding their cancer and deciding about their treatment
Most (10/12) would definitely recommend material to others
More info regarding:
-Other treatment options
-Sex/sexual function (after cancer, surgery, radiotherapy)
The resource:
-Should included a list of approved reading resources
-Material could be offered before or after surgery
-Should be available in a variety of formats (ex. Online, pamphlets, etc.)


This online resource can benefit patients, their families and their healthcare providers.

This tool can facilitate the communication process between patients and their inter-professional health care teams and allow patients to ask more relevant questions that are important for them in their current situation.

We hope that through the Canadian Association of Radiation Oncology (CARO) we will be able to disseminate the tool to a wider audience of prostate cancer patients and their providers across the country and assist them with their treatment decisions.

Our education tool can influence other online patient-education tools in radiation oncology which can assist patients during their cancer journeys from diagnosis to cancer survivorship.



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