La Trobe University research has found delivering cancer patients' rehabilitation clinics by telehealth is safe, effective and removes barriers to participation, such as fatigue, travel and parking costs.
Published in Journal of Medical Internet Research - Cancer, the study found 88 per cent of surveyed cancer patients were satisfied with completing the rehabilitation exercise program online, and 82 per cent reported an improvement in their health and wellbeing.
"Availability of exercise programs for cancer patients is very low in Australia, despite global recognition of the enormous benefits," she said.
"Add to that the burden of travel - especially for people in regional areas who might have to make a two over three-hour round trip - and it becomes an impossibility for many.
"We've shown that telerehabilitation isn't a second-best option - for some cancer patients it might be the only way they can participate in a regular exercise program."
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"Although telerehabilitation has exploded world-wide out of necessity, this study highlights that it shouldn't necessarily take a back seat if the threat of COVID-19 diminishes," she said.
"Though some patients did mention the challenges of telerehabilitation - such as the lack of social interaction - the benefits were great, and widely acknowledged among study participants.
We might see many more cancer patients with improved recovery and wellbeing.Dr Amy Dennett
"If healthcare providers could incorporate it into their future planning, we might see many more cancer patients with improved recovery and wellbeing."
"They were proud to have risen to the challenge of the rapid switch to telehealth, but some preferred delivering in-person care as they felt better able to assess, monitor and correct patients exercising," she said.