Effects of Digital Tools and Interventions on Patient-Provider Communication Across the Cancer Control Continuum


Administrative supplements to examine the effects of digital tools and interventions on patient-provider communication across the cancer control continuum.

Effective patient-provider communication remains a critical component of cancer prevention and control efforts, with high-quality communication associated with better care quality and delivery, patient safety, and adherence to provider treatment and medication recommendations, among other cancer outcomes. The use of digital health has far-reaching implications for individual and population health, including fundamental changes to how, when, and where patients and providers interact. Many digital tools have the potential to facilitate patient-provider communication. For example, telehealth and secure messaging through patient portals have been shown to increase cancer patients’ access to healthcare providers, and wearable technologies may facilitate real-time monitoring and information-sharing about cancer-related health behaviors, symptoms, and treatment effects. However, digital tools and interventions may also have unintended negative consequences, such as shortened appointments, missed non-verbal cues, widened digital divide, financial burden, provider burnout, or interference in relationship building. Without attention to the overall impact of digital health for patient-provider communication, these tools/interventions may fail to achieve their cancer control and prevention objectives or result in unintended harm. 

The relationships between digital health tools/interventions, patient-provider communication, and subsequent cancer outcomes are especially understudied among historically underserved populations, which include minoritized racial and ethnic groups, socioeconomically disadvantaged populations, rural populations, LGBTQ+ individuals, older adults, and individuals living with behavioral health conditions or physical disabilities. Members of many of these groups have lower access to and engagement with digital tools compared with the general US population, and also tend to experience poorer quality communication with their healthcare providers. In this context, digital health tools risk exacerbating existing cancer disparities if they further degrade the quality of communication and relationships. Yet, digital tools also have the potential to ameliorate access to care and service disparities and improve patient-provider communication if developed and deployed with equity in mind.

To maximize benefits and minimize risks of digital health, research must explicitly consider how digital tools/interventions affect patient-provider communication and how patient-provider communication, in turn, influences the relationships between digital health interventions and the cancer outcomes they intend to improve.

Funded Sites

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Pin Color Year
Cancer Center Address Digital Tools and Interventions
Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center 7200 Cambridge St. Houston, TX 77030 Check Mark
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Cancer Center 450 Brookline Ave., Boston, MA 02215 Check Mark
Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center 8-684 Factor Building, 10833 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90095 Check Mark
Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock One Medical Center Drive, Lebanon, NH 03756 Check Mark
Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins 401 North Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231 Check Mark
University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center 22 S Greene St, Baltimore, MD 21201 Check Mark
University of Nebraska Medical Center 42nd and Emile Omaha, NE 68198 Check Mark
Last Updated
September 28, 2023