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Extracting implicit information from an app for cancer patients

Science | Researchers
Research Spotlight: Extracting implicit information from an app for cancer patients

An app developed together with patients, Close2U, is being refined to help doctors better understand a patient’s experience of cancer outside of the consultation room.

In recent years, mobile apps have begun to be used to monitor the health of patients with chronic medical conditions. One such app for cancer patients, Close2U, is being progressively developed and refined by a team of medical professionals, supported by psychologists, through a series of interactions with users.

In an open access article published in Journal of Healthcare Engineering, Professor Iván García-Magariño from Complutense University of Madrid in Spain and his colleagues describe the latest phase of the development of Close2U. The aim of the Close2U project is to develop an app that can promptly and efficiently provide medical professionals with key information to optimize a cancer patient’s treatment. The app will enable continuous monitoring of patients symptoms and therefore reduce the time needed in face-to-face consultations.

The authors of the article designed a study to determine if and how the physical and emotional states of Close2U users affected the way they used the app. A sample of users, comprising both cancer patients and healthy individuals, completed a survey on the app to describe their physical and emotional state, including their mood, sleep quality, and pain. The authors then analyzed the correlations between the answers provided by the users and the way they used the app, such as the time they took to complete the survey and the number of times they changed their answers.

The authors found several significant correlations. For example, users changed their answers more frequently when they were experiencing negative moods, high-quality sleep, and high levels of pain. The users also took longer to complete the survey if they were experiencing more pain. The authors conclude that the number of changes made and the time taken to complete the survey on the Close2U app can therefore be used to indicate a user's emotional and physical state, enriching the information they provide.

Read the full article here >>

This blog post is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). Illustration by David Jury.

Article of the Year Award: Outstanding research contributions of 2021, as selected by our Chief Editors. Read the winning articles.