The purpose of this project is to study a new virtual group intervention developed for patients treated for head and neck cancer with curative chemoradiation therapy: the Virtual SLP and Patient-Guided Swallowing Group-based Intervention, or eG2 Intervention.
Chemoradiotherapy treatments are known to produce significant side effects that prevent patients from swallowing food properly, known as dysphagia. There are exercises that allow patients to recover better from their treatments and have less difficulty swallowing. This initial recovery is very important for the future well-being and quality of life of patients. Unfortunately, patients often do not complete their exercises because of the pain and fatigue associated with their treatments and because they do not see the importance of doing them. That is why the team of speech-language pathologists (SLP) at the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM) has innovated by implementing a virtual group swallowing intervention model guided by a patient partner.
Halfway between a group therapy and a support group, remote meetings are offered weekly to patients during their chemoradiotherapy treatment. In addition to the SLP who ensures that patients are doing their exercises at home and adjusts their exercises as needed, there is a patient partner who is present at these group meetings. His presence helps to reassure, inform, inspire and motivate the patients. Thus, together, the SLP, the patient partner and all the patients present find solutions and support each other to adapt to the intense side effects caused by the treatments while finding the courage and motivation to do their exercise program to prevent dysphagia. However, the impacts of using telehealth to provide a patient-partner guided group speech-language pathology intervention have not been explored to date.
The purpose of this project is to examine the impact of the eG2 Intervention in preventing dysphagia-related complications, improving patient quality of life and quality of care. This study is important in order to improve this intervention and make it available to other patients, in other centers in Quebec and elsewhere.