Using Information Communication Technology to Deliver Brief Motivational Interviewing

The University of Hong Kong (HKU) logo

The University of Hong Kong (HKU)




Childhood Cancer


Behavioral: Brief motivational interviewing
Behavioral: Placebo control

Study type


Funder types



UW 19-053

Details and patient eligibility


This study aims to examine the efficacy of using Information Communication Technology (ICT) to deliver brief Motivational Interviewing (BMI) to promote regular physical activity among Hong Kong Chinese childhood cancer survivors.

Full description

A substantial body of evidence has indicated that improved childhood cancer survival has inevitably been accompanied by increased chronic physical problems and adverse psychological late-effects of cancer and its treatment. The frequently reported physiological and psychological sequelae included cancer-related fatigue, reduced muscle strength, decreases in functional capacity, activity intolerance, depression and distorted self-esteem, which in turn severely comprises their quality of life. There is a growing body of evidence highlighting the beneficial effects of physical activity on the physiological and psychological health of childhood cancer survivors. Particularly, substantial evidence reveals that engaging in regular moderate-intensity physical activity can help ameliorate some of the treatment-related adverse effects experienced by childhood cancer survivors, such as reduce cancer-related fatigue, enhance muscle strength, improve cardiovascular fitness and eventually lead to a better quality of life. Evidence demonstrates that education alone is insufficient or unlikely to change behavior. Motivational interviewing (MI) is a directive, client-centered counseling strategy which differs from prevailing patient education to support clients to explore and resolve their ambivalence about changing their behaviors. Meanwhile, there is an increase in the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) for health care delivery and health promotion. Using instant messaging (i.e. WhatsApp or WeChat) allows quick, direct and continuing professional advice and support for the parents to promote their child's level of physical activity. Therefore, the aim of this study is to examine the efficacy of using ICT to deliver BMI to promote regular physical activity among Hong Kong Chinese childhood cancer survivors.


161 patients




9 to 16 years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion and exclusion criteria

The Inclusion Criteria for eligible Hong Kong Chinese childhood cancer survivals are as follows:

  • Aged 9 to 16 years;
  • Able to speak Cantonese and read Chinese;
  • Had completed cancer treatment at least six months previously; and
  • currently do not engage in regular physical exercise.

Exclusion Criteria:

The investigators will exclude childhood cancer survivors with evidence of recurrence or second malignancies, and those with physical impairment or cognitive and learning problems identified from their medical records.

Additionally, parents (either father or mother; the primary caregiver of childhood cancer survivors) must be able to:

  • Speak Cantonese and read Chinese,
  • Use a smartphone and can use an instant messaging tool (e.g., WhatsApp/WeChat); and
  • Are willing to receive health promotion advice and interact with our interventionist via WhatsApp/WeChat on a smartphone throughout the study period.

Trial design

Primary purpose

Supportive Care



Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


None (Open label)

161 participants in 2 patient groups, including a placebo group

brief motivational interviewing
Experimental group
Participants will receive BMI and instant messaging delivered by a trained research nurse. At the time of recruitment, both children and parents will receive an education talk on the significance of and misconceptions about regular physical activity for cancer survivors and strategies for overcoming barriers to engaging in physical activity. Parents will then receive a face-to-face BMI to motivate their children to engage in regular physical activity. Parents will also be encouraged to motivate their children to intensify their physical activity levels progressively, with the ultimate goal of achieving the Global Recommendations on Physical Activity on Health suggested by the World Health Organization. Additionally, they will be invited to download a mobile health application from the Centre for Health Protection, Department of Health, HKSAR website that contains information on physical activity.
Behavioral: Brief motivational interviewing
Placebo Control
Placebo Comparator group
Children and parents will receive the education talk on physical activity and ask to download the mobile health application that contains information on physical activity at the time of recruitment similar to the intervention group. However, parents will not receive BMI and instant messaging throughout the study period.
Behavioral: Placebo control

Trial contacts and locations



Data sourced from

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