Web-based lifestyle interventions for prostate cancer survivors: Qualitative study

Elizabeth Y. Wang, Rebecca E. Graff, June M. Chan, Crystal S. Langlais, Jeanette M. Broering, Justin W. Ramsdill, Elizabeth R. Kessler, Kerri M. Winters-Stone, Erin L. van Blarigan, Stacey A. Kenfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Exercise and a healthy diet can improve the quality of life and prognosis of prostate cancer survivors, but there have been limited studies on the feasibility of web-based lifestyle interventions in this population. Objective: This study aims to develop a data-driven grounded theory of web-based engagement by prostate cancer survivors based on their experience in the Community of Wellness, a 12-week randomized clinical trial designed to support healthy diet and exercise habits. Methods: TrueNTH’s Community of Wellness was a four-arm pilot study of men with prostate cancer (N=202) who received progressive levels of behavioral support (level 1: website; level 2: website with individualized diet and exercise recommendations; level 3: website with individualized diet and exercise recommendations, Fitbit, and text messages; and level 4: website with individualized diet and exercise recommendations, Fitbit and text messages, and separate phone calls with an exercise trainer and a registered dietitian). The primary aim of the study is to determine the feasibility and estimate the effects on behaviors (results reported in a separate paper). Following the 12-week intervention, we invited participants to participate in 4 focus groups, one for each intervention level. In this report, we used grounded theory analyses including open, axial, and selective coding to generate codes and themes from the focus group transcripts. Categories were refined across levels using embodied categorization and constant comparative methods. Results: In total, 20 men with prostate cancer participated in the focus groups: 5, 4, 5, and 6 men in levels 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively. Participants converged on 5 common factors influencing engagement with the intervention: environment (home environment, competing priorities, and other lifestyle programs), motivation (accountability and discordance experienced within the health care system), preparedness (technology literacy, health literacy, trust, and readiness to change), program design (communication, materials, and customization), and program support (education, ally, and community). Each of these factors influenced the survivors’ long-term impressions and habits. We proposed a grounded theory associating these constructs to describe the components contributing to the intuitiveness of a web-based lifestyle intervention. Conclusions: These analyses suggest that web-based lifestyle interventions are more intuitive when we optimize participants’ technology and health literacy; tailor interface design, content, and feedback; and leverage key motivators (ie, health care providers, family members, web-based coach) and environmental factors (ie, familiarity with other lifestyle programs). Together, these grounded theory–based efforts may improve engagement with web-based interventions designed to support prostate cancer survivorship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere19362
JournalJMIR Cancer
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • Cancer survivorship
  • Digital health
  • Internet-based intervention
  • Technology-based intervention
  • Usability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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