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Published Online: 7 October 2020

Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer Using a Symptom Heuristics App: Provider Perceptions and Actions

Publication: Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology
Volume 9, Issue Number 5


Purpose: This study examined health care providers' perceptions of the usefulness and ease of use of a symptom heuristics app delivered via a tablet computer as a resource for understanding symptom experiences of adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer. AYAs' app-generated symptom reports were compared with providers' documentation of AYAs' symptoms.
Methods: This multisite study included responses from 86 AYAs 15–29 years of age who completed the Computerized Symptom Capture Tool (C-SCAT) before two scheduled visits for chemotherapy. After each visit, their providers completed a survey addressing their perspective of: (1) the usefulness of data provided by the C-SCAT to understand the AYAs' symptom experience, and (2) the nature of the discussion of symptoms with the AYA. An electronic health record review compared symptoms that AYAs identified by using the C-SCAT with providers' documentation of symptoms.
Results: One hundred forty-four complete surveys were returned after 162 visits. Fifty percent (n = 72) of responses reported that the C-SCAT helped identify the patient's symptoms, and 53% (n = 76) reported that it helped identify the patient's priority symptoms. Providers also reported higher patient engagement and more focused discussions regarding symptoms. They reported that use of the C-SCAT facilitated the development of symptom management plans. Priority symptoms were documented more frequently than nonpriority symptoms (54% vs. 32.7%; p < 0.01) as was a plan for managing priority symptoms (33.7% vs. 17.9%; p < 0.01).
Conclusion: Use of the C-SCAT enhanced providers' understanding of AYAs' symptom experiences. Further research is needed to demonstrate the effectiveness of the C-SCAT as a resource to improve symptom management among AYAs with cancer.

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Published In

cover image Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology
Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology
Volume 9Issue Number 5October 2020
Pages: 579 - 585
PubMed: 32326804


Published online: 7 October 2020
Published in print: October 2020
Published ahead of print: 23 April 2020


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Catherine Fiona Macpherson [email protected]
Inpatient Cancer Care Unit, Seattle Children's Hospital, Seattle, Washington, USA.
Kristin Stegenga
Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology/BMT, Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, Missouri, USA.
Jeanne M. Erickson
College of Nursing, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.
Lauri A. Linder
College of Nursing and Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, University of Utah, Primary Children's Hospital, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
Amy R. Newman
College of Nursing, Marquette University and Department of Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.
Ronald K. Elswick
Department of Family and Community Health, School of Nursing Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA.
John Charlson
Department of Medicine Division of Hematology/Oncology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.
Stefanie Thomas
Department of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology, and BMT, Cleveland Clinic Children's, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
Suzanne Ameringer
Department of Family and Community Health, School of Nursing Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA.


Address correspondence to: Catherine Fiona Macpherson, PhD, RN, CPON, Inpatient Cancer Care Unit, Seattle Children's Hospital, 4800 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105, USA [email protected]

Author Disclosure Statement

No competing financial interests exist.

Funding Information

Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Foundation.
Clinical and Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin.
National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Numbers: UL1TR00105 (University of Utah); UL1TR001436 (Medical College of Wisconsin); and UL1TR002649 (Virginia Commonwealth University).
National Institute of Nursing Research of the National Institutes of Health T32NR013456.
St. Baldrick's Foundation.
University of Utah Vice President's Pilot Award.

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