Smartphone App to Self-Monitor Nausea During Pediatric Chemotherapy Treatment: User-Centered Design Process

Astrid Eliasen, Mikkel Kramme Abildtoft, Niels Steen Krogh, Catherine Rechnitzer, Jesper Sune Brok, René Mathiasen, Kjeld Schmiegelow, Kim Peder Dalhoff

17 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Nausea and vomiting are common and distressing side effects for children receiving chemotherapy. Limited evidence is available to guide antiemetic recommendations; therefore, prospective and reliable evaluation of antiemetic efficacy is needed. Smartphone apps can be used to effortlessly and precisely collect patient-reported outcomes in real time.

OBJECTIVE: Our objective was to develop a smartphone app to monitor nausea and vomiting episodes in pediatric cancer patients aged 0 to 18 years and to test its usability and adherence to its use.

METHODS: We used a user-centered design process and the evolutionary prototype model to develop and evaluate the app. Multidisciplinary group discussions and several rounds of patient feedback and modification were conducted. We translated the validated Pediatric Nausea Assessment Tool to assess nausea severity in children aged 4 to 18 years. The child's own term for nausea was interactively incorporated in the nausea severity question, with response options expressed as 4 illustrative faces. Parent-reported outcomes were used for children aged 0 to 3 years. Reminders were sent using push notifications in order to ensure high response rates. Children aged 0 to 18 years who were undergoing chemotherapy were recruited from the Department of Pediatric Oncology at Copenhagen University Hospital Rigshospitalet to evaluate the app.

RESULTS: The app's most important function was to record nausea severity in children. After assistance from a researcher, children aged 4 to 18 years were able to report their symptoms in the app, and parents were able to report symptoms for their children aged 0 to 3 years. Children (n=20, aged 2.0-17.5 years) and their parents evaluated the app prospectively during a collective total of 60 chemotherapy cycles. They expressed that the app was user-friendly, intuitive, and that the time spent on data entry was fair. The response rates were on average 92%, 93%, and 80% for the day before, the first day of, and the next 3 days after chemotherapy, respectively. Researchers and clinicians were able to obtain an overview of the patient's chemotherapy dates and responses through a secure and encrypted web-based administrative portal. Data could be downloaded for further analysis.

CONCLUSIONS: The user-friendly app could be used to facilitate future pediatric antiemetic trials and to refine antiemetic treatment during chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere18564
JournalJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)e18564
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2020


  • Antiemetics
  • App
  • Cancer
  • Children
  • Mobile applications
  • Nausea
  • Neoplasms
  • Patient compliance
  • Patient-reported outcome measures
  • Vomiting


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