A digital life coaching (DLC) intervention was found to be feasible for older patients undergoing intensive hospital-based cancer treatments, according to results of a study published in JMIR Formative Research.

Multiple myeloma (MM) is associated with rigorous therapy and many patients report worsened quality of life (QOL), elevated anxiety, emotional distress, and sleep disturbances. To assess the feasibility of a DLC program, 13 older adults undergoing nontandem autologous stem cell transplantation (SCT) for MM were recruited at the University of California San Francisco in 2020.

The patients were contacted by telephone by 1 of 2 life coaches, and were given unlimited access to their coach by telephone, text message, or email. The coaches used structured frameworks to help patients identify and overcome personal barriers to their wellbeing.

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Patients were median age 65 years (range, 50 to 81), 53% were women, 73% had an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status of 0, and 80% were receiving 200 mg/m2 melphalan.

The patients received a median 18 days of coaching (range, 4 to 29) with an engagement frequency of a conversation every 6.2 days (range, 3.9 to 28).

Patient reported outcomes indicated that QOL and sleep disturbances remained relatively stable throughout the study. During the DLC intervention, fewer patients reported they had elevated distress compared with baseline (31% vs 69%).

This study was limited by the requirement for patients to have access to a mobile telephone, which may have excluded patients who were more disadvantaged.

These study results found a DLC intervention was feasible and associated with a decrease in the proportion of patients reporting elevated distress. A randomized phase 2 trial is currently under way to better assess the efficacy of DLC.

Disclosure: Some authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.


Banerjee R, Huang C-Y, Dunn L, et al. Digital life coaching during stem cell transplantation: a pilot feasibility study. JMIR Form Res. Published online January 17, 2022. doi:10.2196/33701

This article originally appeared on Oncology Nurse Advisor