Can a Smartphone App Track Patient Symptoms During Clinical Trials?

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In this prospective study, 101 patients with cancer used the PRO-SMART app to log adverse effects.
In this prospective study, 101 patients with cancer used the PRO-SMART app to log adverse effects.

Patient-reported outcomes by smartphone (PRO-SMART) is an accessible and feasible intervention for assessing symptomatic adverse effects (AEs) for patients with cancer undergoing chemotherapy in prospective clinical trials, according to a study published in Supportive Care in Cancer.

Although survival outcomes are improving in oncologic care, prolonged survival among patients with cancer often lead to increased health costs, hospitalization, and reduced quality of life. Patient-reported outcomes, and a way to effectively measure them, are growing more and more important during clinical studies.

For this prospective study, researchers enrolled 101 patients with cancer who had received at least 2 cycles of chemotherapy and were scheduled for 2 more cycles. Patients downloaded the PRO-SMART app onto their phones, which guided them to enter personal health records whenever they had symptomatic adverse effects associated with chemotherapy, pain, diet, and exercise.

Of the enrolled patients, 100 utilized PRO-SMART once and were included in the final analysis.

Results showed that the number of symptomatic AEs associated with chemotherapy increased from 0.92±0.80 to 2.26±1.80, the grading of AEs increased from 0.81±0.69 to 1.00±0.62, and the numeric rating scale for pain increased from 0.20±0.72 to 0.99±1.55.

A patient questionnaire showed that 64.2% and 83% of patients found the PRO-SMART intervention to be useful and easy to use, respectively.

The study suggests that interventions such as PRO-SMART is not only feasible and accessible in AE assessment in cancer studies, but may improve overall patient management. The authors concluded that “The smartphone-based electronic PRO will identify areas that can be improved to provide better symptom-based monitoring during routine cancer treatment, and pave the way for a more patient-centered and accurate approach to symptom reporting.”


Bae WK, Kwon JH, Lee HW, et al. Feasibility and accessibility of electronic patient-reported outcome measures using a smartphone during routine chemotherapy: a pilot study [published online May 7, 2018]. Support Care Cancer. doi: 10.1007/s00520-018-4232-z

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