A new app designed to reduce isolation and mental burden among young cancer patients is to undergo a national rollout across Denmark in 2024 after a successful pilot.
The ‘Kræftværket‘ (The Cancer Forge) app provides teenagers and young adults in cancer treatment with a comprehensive suite of features including symptom tracking, access to health information and a supportive online community with whom to share treatment experiences.
The app aims to alleviate loneliness and enhance young people‘s mechanisms for coping with their disease and was developed in collaboration with young cancer patients and healthcare professionals.
It is the first digital health solution of its kind in Europe targeted at young cancer patients for national health system implementation.
Professor Helle Pappot, professor in clinical oncology at University of Copenhagen and clinical professor at Rigshospitalet, University Hospital of Copenhagen, Denmark, was instrumental in the app‘s development.
She said: ‘The app has proven to be a good tool for creating an overview of and mastering one‘s illness, that both the healthcare system and the patients can benefit from. Our research shows that young people find the app supportive and meaningful.
‘The solution has been a crucial tool in empowering patients to manage their disease, and through our clinical research we have been able to document the positive impact on a patient’s quality of life.‘
Supporting cancer patients‘ quality of life
A pilot study led by the University of Copenhagen, which was published in the journal JMIR Mhealth Uhealth in 2019, investigated the feasibility of a smartphone app among adolescent and young adult patients with cancer in active treatment and post-treatment.
A total of 20 participants, 10 in active treatment and 10 in post-treatment, were recruited at Rigshospitalet and asked to use the Kræftværket app as they deemed appropriate over a six-week period.
The participants were asked to complete the 30-item European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life (QoL) Questionnaire before and after the six-week period.
The post-treatment group experienced a significant increase in overall QoL after the six-week period (global QoL: baseline 62.5, SD 22.3; after six weeks 80.8, SD 9.7; P=.04).
For the group in active treatment, the QoL remained stable throughout the six weeks.
The researchers concluded that use of the smartphone app in this patient population was feasible and had a possible effect on QoL and therefore was ‘warranted for this population‘.
The app will be implemented across all five Danish regions in the new year, with the developers hoping that international expansion will be possible in future.
Andreas Dam, CEO of Daman – the digital health company behind the app‘s development – said: ‘Our work in co-creation with patients has been pivotal in creating a space that not only provides technological solutions but also emotional support for young cancer patients.‘