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Technology platform paves way for breast cancer recovery

InquisitHealth and the University of South Carolina College of Nursing are expanding their peer engagement technology platform to provide an effective physical activity program for breast cancer survivors.

The physical activity program, Moving Forward Together, is delivered by peer coaches. This technology-enabled program will be evaluated as part of a NCI funded  Grant, in collaboration with University of South Carolina and leading researchers and clinicians.

Evidence proves the benefits of aerobic exercise to alleviate the outcome of cancer treatments. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends regular exercise for cancer survivors, but as many as 46%-76% of survivors do not exercise at recommended levels.

In a prior trial led by USC College of Nursing Associate Dean for Research, Health Sciences Endowed Professor and Co-Director of the Cancer Survivorship Research Center, Bernardine Pinto, peer coaches were trained to provide a 12-week home-based physical activity program to breast cancer survivors. The peer coaches, who were also breast cancer survivors, delivered 1-on-1 weekly counseling phone calls. Survivors’ moderate-to-vigorous physical activity increased significantly.

"We have already demonstrated the efficacy of this approach,” shared Dr. Pinto. “This new trial is focused on how to integrate a web-based platform to help support scalability and dissemination.”

The goal is to streamline key processes, including peer management; matching survivors with an appropriate peer based on multiple criteria; 1-on-1 HIPAA-compliant counseling providing structure as well as personalization; and lastly, tools to assure reliability and improvement in clinical outcomes.

“This is an important opportunity to actively connect our peer support work to direct improvements in clinical outcomes,” said Cynthia Gutierrez Bernstein, Executive Director of the Cancer Hope Network. “We are excited to participate in this trial.”

This is a unique collaboration among researchers, healthcare systems, cancer support organizations, and patients to leverage a proven technology platform to expand an evidence-based breast cancer peer support program so that, eventually, many more patients can benefit.

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