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A review of mobile applications to help adolescent and young adult cancer patients

Authors Wesley K, Fizur P

Received 25 April 2015

Accepted for publication 12 June 2015

Published 18 August 2015 Volume 2015:6 Pages 141—148


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 5

Editor who approved publication: Professor Steven Youngentob

Video abstract presented by PJ Fizur

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Kimberly M Wesley,1 Philip J Fizur2

1Department of Psychology, St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN, 2Department of Psychology, La Salle University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Objective: To review research articles utilizing mobile applications with adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer patients.
Materials and methods: We identified articles via online searches and reference lists (eg, PsycInfo, PubMed). Articles were reviewed by two study team members for target population, stated purpose, technological utilization, sample size, demographic characteristics, and outcome data. Strengths and weaknesses of each study were described.
Results: Of 19 identified manuscripts, six met full inclusion criteria for this review (four smartphone applications and two tablet applications). One additional article that included an application not specific to oncology but included AYA patients with cancer within the target sample was also reviewed. Uses of these applications included symptom tracking, pain management, monitoring of eating habits following bone marrow transplant, monitoring of mucositis, and improving medication management. Utility results from pilot studies are presented.
Conclusion: Mobile applications are growing in number and increasingly available to AYAs with and without chronic illness. These applications may prove useful in helping to support AYAs throughout their cancer treatment and beyond. However, few applications provide empirical data supporting their utility. Numerous strengths and benefits of these applications include increased accessibility to educational resources and self-management strategies, more frequent physical and emotional symptom tracking, and increased access to peer support. Despite these strengths, numerous limitations are identified, highlighting the need for future research in this area.

Keywords: adolescent, young adult, cancer, smartphone, mobile, applications

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