The effect of digital health technologies on managing symptoms across pediatric cancer continuum: A systematic review

Int J Nurs Sci. 2020 Oct 27;8(1):22-29. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnss.2020.10.002. eCollection 2021 Jan 10.


OBJECTIVE: Pediatric cancer patients endure multiple symptoms during treatment and also in survivorship. Digital health technologies provide an innovative way to support their symptom management. This review aimed to examine the effect of digital health technologies on managing symptoms among across pediatric cancer continuum.

METHODS: A systematic literature search of six English and three Chinese electronic databases was combined with hand searching, to identify eligible research studies from database establishment to November 30, 2019. Two reviewers carried out data selection, data extraction, and quality appraisal independently. A narrative approach was taken to summarize data.

RESULTS: Four randomized control trials, two quasi-experiments, and five one group pre-posttest designed studies, were included in the review with a total of 425 participants. The methodological quality of the studies was generally fair. Seven symptoms (anxiety, depression, pain, anger, fatigue, fear, distress) and seven digital health technologies (visual reality, website, humanoid robot, app, wearable devices, short messages and videoconference) were reported in the included studies.

CONCLUSIONS: Current evidence supports the effect of digital health technologies is generally mixed and inconclusive. There is a trend of positive effects found in the interventions that feature digital health technologies’ interactive function. This review highlights the need for further investigation with rigorous research designs and the consideration of influencing factors from the symptoms, participants, and context levels to inform a better digital health implementation.

PMID:33575441 | PMC:PMC7859551 | DOI:10.1016/j.ijnss.2020.10.002