Kristen L. Fessele, PhD, RN | Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Andrea Cuadra, PhD | Stanford University; Armin Shahrokni, MD, MPH | Hackensack Meridian Health; Grigory Syrkin, MD | Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Competition Sponsor: US National Academy of Medicine
Awardee Year: 2023
The COBRA (Cancer, Older adults, Balance, and Resistance Activities) project will develop and test the use of a self-paced digital health promotion program, delivered by an interactive voice assistant through a smart speaker/display in the home setting. It will be created using participatory design methods in partnership with a diverse group of older adult cancer survivors to create culturally inclusive messaging and activity options that are engaging and promote genuine, positive changes towards long term healthy behaviors. Most cancers occur among older adults, and without intervention, cancer treatment can result in long-lasting fatigue, decreased physical endurance and ability to care for oneself independently. Fortunately, health promotion activities, like gradually increasing physical activity and eating a healthy post-cancer diet can help to improve energy and function, but there are few available resources to educate survivors right after treatment ends, when they may be most receptive to this information. The proportion of older adults is growing quickly around the world, making this an urgent issue. The digital COBRA intervention will be easily accessible at the end of cancer treatment and will assess a survivor’s current physical function and tailor the education and activities to their individual needs and preferences. Use of an interactive voice assistant has been shown to be an effective method for older adults less familiar with computers to engage with digital interventions. We believe that COBRA’s early assessment and individualized intervention will enhance recovery after cancer treatment and improve independence and healthy longevity for this population.