Researchers study text messaging for cancer pain management

As part of its Mobilizing for Health Initiative, the McKesson Foundation announced last week that has awarded a research grant to the Center for Connected Health in Boston, a division of Partners HealthCare, to develop a text messaging program to improve pain management in cancer patients. The study will use text messaging and interactive voice response (IVR) technology to collect self-reported pain assessments, monitor the impact of pain on patients' daily lives, and provide tailored, multi-dimensional and supportive feedback.

Kamal Jethwani, M.D., corporate manager for research and innovation at the Center for Connected Health, and Principal Investigator for this study, said there is increasing evidence for the use of IVR technologies in mHealth interventions because it is "low cost, convenient, reliable and effective for symptom and treatment monitoring in chronic disease management." By combining these technologies, the Center hopes to decrease the intensity of cancer pain and increase their patients' quality of life, while providing education and feedback to empower and enable individuals to manage their pain better.

The Center will enroll 122 lung cancer patients with moderate to severe cancer pain, who will be randomly assigned to receive mobile-based interventions or the standard practice of care. Participants in the study will be followed for four months, and interventions will be tailored to the individual patient's needs as determined by their ratings of pain intensity, interference in daily life, type and stage of cancer and type of pain therapy. The study design is based on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network clinical practice guidelines for treatment of adult cancer pain.

This is the second grant the McKesson Foundation has awarded to the Center for Connected Health, a healthcare delivery system founded by its Harvard Medical School affiliated teaching institutions, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.

To learn more:
- here's the McKesson/Center for Connected Health announcement