Childhood Cancer

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Analysis of Unexpected, Potentially Avoidable Admissions to a Pediatric Oncology Unit

Dartmouth College
Gabrielle Helton
Grant Type: 
POST Program Grants
Year Awarded: 
Type of Childhood Cancer: 
General Pediatric Cancer
Project Description: 

Past research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) has looked at unplanned hospital admissions in hopes to target potentially avoidable readmissions to the hospital, improve quality of life for pediatric oncology patients, and pre-emptively manage pain. Emerging data supports the use of prospective electronic symptom monitoring during routine cancer care using patient-reported outcomes. Previous trials in 2013 have aimed to manage and monitor symptoms by recording patients' most common symptoms via tablets. Previous research studies selected patients receiving active treatment from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center at lung, gynecologic, breast, or genitourinary outpatient clinics as participants. All patients were educated in the patient-reported outcome (PRO) software called Symptom Tracking and Reporting (STAR) that would record information about their symptoms. The PROs improved symptom management, communication and efficiency of clinical operations. In addition, the software flags symptoms that healthcare providers may miss. When logging on to the STAR website, patients would receive seven questions concerning common symptoms: pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and appetite loss. Next, the state of both health and performance status of the patients were assessed. It was concluded that monitoring patients' symptoms could increase health related quality of life. Additionally, the surveys increased communication between patient and clinical staff, patient satisfaction, and enhance symptom management. 

Project Goal
Gabrielle will delve deeper into this research study by expanding on this project with Dr. Barz. Gabrielle will create databases with patients’ symptoms, primary diagnosis, etc. to help determine the frequency of symptoms that are readmitting oncology patients. This system will make it easier to see if a symptom (i.e. constipation) is responsible for readmitting the majority of oncology patients. If so, the hospital can take the necessary steps to improve symptoms and reduce unplanned admissions.

Mentored by Dr. Susan Rheingold 
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA

Co-funded by: 
Love Your Melon