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Symptoms and daily experiences reported by children with cancer using a game-based app

Published:April 28, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pedn.2022.04.013

      Highlights

      • Color Me Healthy is a child-centric, game-based symptom assessment app.
      • Children with cancer reported symptoms and daily experiences using the app.
      • Children’s self-reported data can support a person-centered approach to care.
      • Research is needed to evaluate the efficacy of mHealth apps to improve symptoms.

      Abstract

      Purpose

      Mobile health (mHealth) resources, including apps, are emerging as resources to support children in tracking symptoms and other health-related data. The purpose of this study was to describe symptoms and daily experiences reported by elementary school-age children receiving treatment for cancer using the newly developed Color Me Healthy app.

      Design and methods

      Participants in this descriptive study were children 6–12 years of age, who were receiving cancer treatment at a free-standing children’s hospital in the Intermountain West of the United States. Children were requested to use the app for at least five days between clinical visits. Children’s app-reported data were extracted from individual user accounts for analysis. Quantitative data were summarized descriptively. Qualitative data were summarized using qualitative content analysis.

      Results

      Nineteen children (6–12 years; median 8 years; 7 females) completed 107 days of app use. All children reported symptoms at least once, and 14 reported at least one day with a symptom of moderate or greater severity. Daily experiences reported through the app reflected children’s engagement in usual childhood experiences while also describing life with cancer, including symptoms.

      Conclusions

      Elementary school-age children are capable of self-reporting symptoms using a symptom reporting app, providing preliminary evidence for the potential benefits and clinical relevance of mHealth resources to support health outcomes within this population.

      Practice implications

      Clinicians should anticipate and support ongoing symptom management needs between clinical visits. Children’s self-reported data can promote a person-centered approach to symptom assessment and management.

      Keywords

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