Assessment of Symptoms in Radiation Therapy Patients Using an Interactive Telephone System

Principal Investigator: Nora Janjan, M.D.

This protocol is testing a novel interactive voice response (IVR) telephone system that monitors patients’ symptoms at home, and can notify their health care team when symptom severity needs intervention. Patients undergoing radiation therapy will be studied. Patients will respond to programmed questions about their symptoms using the keypad of a touch-tone phone. The two phases of this study are described below.

Specific Goals

  • To determine the type and severity of symptoms that are present before, during and after radiation therapy (Complete)
  • To determine the effectiveness of current symptom control measures in relieving symptoms during the course of radiation therapy (Complete)


Patients from the Thoracic and GI services who are scheduled to have radiation therapy and have a diagnosis of esophageal cancer, stomach cancer, metastatic GI cancer, rectal/anal cancer, pancreatic cancer, primary lung cancer or metastatic lung cancer will be recruited for this study.

The IVR system will serve as a data collection system to document symptom patterns and severity. All patients will report their symptoms using this system once at baseline prior to radiation therapy, twice a week during the course of radiation and once a week thereafter for one month after completing radiation. At each weekly evaluation during the course of radiation therapy, the physician and the advanced practice nurse will complete a form that documents the patient's symptoms as reported to him/her. The symptoms recorded by health care professionals on these assessment forms will be correlated with the symptoms reported that week by the patient through the IVR system.


The outcome measures include the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI), MD Anderson Symptom Inventory (MDASI) and the MOS 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36).

For more information

Contact Beth Johnson, R.N., at