The Pain Squad+ Smartphone App To Support Real-Time Pain Management for Adolescents With Cancer

Official Title

The Pain Squad+ Smartphone App To Support Real-Time Pain Management for Adolescents With Cancer: A Randomized Controlled Trial


Pain negatively affects the quality of life of adolescents with cancer (AWC). It can also represent a high cost to the healthcare system and families. In response, our team has built a smartphone-based app, called Pain Squad+, which can give AWC real-time advice to manage their pain. The app uses pain diaries and personalized pain advice plus support from a registered nurse to give real-time pain management in all settings. This study will look at the impact of Pain Squad+, with or without the nurse support, on AWC health quality and healthcare costs over time.

Trial Description

Primary Outcome:

  • Brief Pain Inventory (BPI)
Secondary Outcome:
  • Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) Pediatric Pain Interference Short-form Scale
  • Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL) 4.0
  • Porter's scale
  • Health Utility Index Mark 2/3 (HUI2/3)
  • Health Services Use
Pain negatively affects the quality of life (QOL) of adolescents with cancer (AWC), slows cancer recovery, and results in negative long-term health effects. Pain is also significant cost to the healthcare system and families. To address this problem, the study investigators have developed and used a phased-approach to test a smartphone-based app, called Pain Squad+. Using this app AWC report the pain they have and the app provides AWC with advice on how to treat this pain based on an algorithm our team developed. An email is also sent to a nurse if an AWC reports severe pain 3 times in a row. The nurse then contacts the AWC to assist in treating pain. This project will test the effect of the Pain Squad+ app, with and without nurse help, on treating pain and other pain-related health issues and managing costs associated with pain care, when compared to AWC not using the app. Investigators will enroll 222 AWC recruited from 9 Canadian pediatric oncology care centres into a 3-group randomized controlled trial. AWC in the experimental groups will be asked to use Pain Squad+ for 8 weeks (with or without nurse involvement) and all groups will complete pain-related outcome measures at baseline, 2-, 4-, 8-, and 16-weeks. The primary study outcome will be pain intensity. The secondary study outcomes will be (a) pain interference; (b) QOL; (c) pain self-efficacy; and (d) cost effectiveness and utility. Investigators will use established statistical methods to analyze the health and cost data collected over the course of this study. A real-time and cost effective way to address the problem of pain in AWC is needed. Pain Squad+ can improve pain treatment and QOL for AWC as well as decrease costs incurred by families and the healthcare system. If effective, the Pain Squad+ as a model of technology-assisted care may represent a way to improve the QOL for a range of Canadian patients by treating a variety of physical and psychological symptoms the moment they occur.

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Canadian Cancer Society

These resources are provided in partnership with the Canadian Cancer Society