Enabling Symptom Identification and Tracking in Children Receiving Cancer Treatment

Official Title

Refinement and Early Evaluation of SPARK, an Approach to Enable Symptom Screening and Monitoring by Children Receiving Cancer Treatments


Children with cancer and hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) recipients suffer from severe and bothersome symptoms because treatments are intense. So, the investigators developed SPARK (Supportive care Prioritization, Assessment and Recommendations for Kids), a website devoted to helping children track symptoms and providing a way to let doctors and nurses know which symptoms are bothersome. This study will examine the likelihood that children will complete SPARK once daily, help the investigators figure out how to improve the website so that children will use it, and help the investigators plan the large scale trial to test its efficacy in improving quality of life (QoL). Participants will be children with cancer or HSCT recipients who are 8-18 years of age and who are expected to be in hospital or in clinic daily for 5 days.To determine the feasibility of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of symptom feedback to healthcare providers

Trial Description

Primary Outcome:

  • Feasibility of an RCT of symptom feedback to healthcare providers versus standard of care
Secondary Outcome:
  • Pediatric Quality of Life (Peds QL) Cancer Module Acute Version
  • Symptom Screening in Pediatrics (SSPedi)
  • Faces Pain Scale Revised
Methods: Participants will be children with cancer or HSCT recipients who are 8-18 years of age and who can understand English, and who are expected to be in hospital or in clinic daily for 5 days. SPARK RCT will be a pilot multi-centre RCT in which we will randomize children to either undergo daily symptom screening for 5 days with symptom reports provided to the healthcare team or standard of care. Feasibility will be met if at least 30 participants are enrolled within one year and at least 75% complete at least 60% of evaluations. Quality of the Idea Children receiving cancer treatment have excellent survival outcomes, in part, related to the provision of intensive therapies. Unfortunately, most children suffer and experience severe and bothersome treatment-related symptoms. Symptoms not only impact on QoL and morbidity but, in addition, may negatively influence future psychosocial functioning. Symptoms remain unaddressed even during healthcare encounters because children do not complain and clinicians fail to ask about them. We recently developed SSPedi, a pediatric-specific symptom screening tool on an iPad. SSPedi, however, consists only of the questions which ask about symptoms. SPARK is the web-based application which will facilitate access to SSPedi, encourage symptom screening, generate reports and allow children to track their symptoms. Careful thought to design is required to ensure SPARK optimizes future use and has clinical utility. The proposed project output is a product that facilitates longitudinal symptom screening and provides the groundwork for a future RCT of symptom feedback.

View this trial on ClinicalTrials.gov

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Canadian Cancer Society

These resources are provided in partnership with the Canadian Cancer Society