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PainSquad+: A Smartphone App to Support Real-Time Pain Management for Adolescents with Cancer

Hospital for Sick Children
Jennifer Stinson, RN, PhD
Grant Type: 
Nurse Researcher Grants
Year Awarded: 
Type of Childhood Cancer: 
General Pediatric Cancer
Project Description: 

Pain is a common symptom experienced by adolescents with cancer and often occurs outside of the hospital environment. Adolescents with cancer are in a unique developmental stage that may mean pain characteristics (for instance pain severity), the impact of pain, and pain treatment outcomes are different in adolescents compared to children and adults. This means that unique strategies are needed to solve the adolescent cancer pain problem.

Project Goal
In response, our group will develop and test the PainSquad+ pain management smartphone app. This app will provide adolescents with pain management support the moment they are in pain, including when they are not in the hospital. To create PainSquad+ we are using multiple study phases. To date, we have developed a prototype app, reviewed current pediatric cancer pain research, held a meeting with experts in cancer, pain and smartphones to decide on the needed PainSquad+ features, and developed a clinical map detailing how PainSquad+ will help adolescents in pain.

The current project will include two studies. First, we will conduct usability testing with adolescents with cancer to refine PainSquad+ so that it is useable, acceptable and understandable for adolescents. The second study will be a pilot study, using a rigorous scientific design, to: (a) test the feasibility of conducting a large-scale PainSquad+ experiment and (b) begin to examine how effective PainSquad+ is at helping adolescents manage pain. We anticipate that once developed and tested for effectiveness, PainSquad+ will improve pain treatment and ultimately quality of life in adolescents with cancer.