Development and evaluation of the usefulness, usability, and feasibility of iNNOV breast cancer: mixed methods study

Cristina Mendes-Santos, Francisco Nunes, Elisabete Weiderpass, Rui Santana, Gerhard Andersson

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Background: Despite the efficacy of psychosocial interventions in minimizing psychosocial morbidity in breast cancer survivors (BCSs), intervention delivery across survivorship is limited by physical, organizational, and attitudinal barriers, which contribute to a mental health care treatment gap in cancer settings. Objective: The aim of this study is to develop iNNOV Breast Cancer (iNNOVBC), a guided, internet-delivered, individually tailored, acceptance and commitment therapy–influenced cognitive behavioral intervention program aiming to treat mild to moderate anxiety and depression in BCSs as well as to improve fatigue, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, and health-related quality of life in this group. This study also aims to evaluate the usefulness, usability, and preliminary feasibility of iNNOVBC. Methods: iNNOVBC was developed using a user-centered design approach involving its primary and secondary end users, that is, BCSs (11/24, 46%) and mental health professionals (13/24, 54%). We used mixed methods, namely in-depth semistructured interviews, laboratory-based usability tests, short-term field trials, and surveys, to assess iNNOVBC’s usefulness, usability, and preliminary feasibility among these target users. Descriptive statistics were used to characterize the study sample, evaluate performance data, and assess survey responses. Qualitative data were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and thematically analyzed. Results: Overall, participants considered iNNOVBC highly useful, with most participants reporting on the pertinence of its scope, the digital format, the relevant content, and the appropriate features. However, various usability issues were identified, and participants suggested that the program should be refined by simplifying navigation paths, using a more dynamic color scheme, including more icons and images, displaying information in different formats and versions, and developing smartphone and tablet versions. In addition, participants suggested that tables should be converted into plain textboxes and data visualization dashboards should be included to facilitate the tracking of progress. The possibility of using iNNOVBC in a flexible manner, tailoring it according to BCSs’ changing needs and along the cancer care continuum, was another suggestion that was identified. Conclusions: The study results suggest that iNNOVBC is considered useful by both BCSs and mental health professionals, configuring a promising point-of-need solution to bridge the psychological supportive care gap experienced by BCSs across the survivorship trajectory. We believe that our results may be applicable to other similar programs. However, to fulfill their full supportive role, such programs should be comprehensive, highly usable, and tailorable and must adopt a flexible yet integrated structure capable of evolving in accordance with survivors’ changing needs and the cancer continuum.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere33550
JournalJMIR Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Acceptance and commitment therapy
  • Anxiety
  • Breast cancer survivors
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Depression
  • Digital mental health
  • E-mental health
  • Internet interventions
  • Mobile phone
  • Usability
  • User-centered design


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