Cancer treatment is a lot to manage at any age, but young people who are still developing an understanding of their illness may not know how to talk about what is happening in their body. Often they are dealing with intense treatments with multiple side effects — hair loss, nausea, loss of appetite, pain and distress.
Parents are involved in helping young children with symptom management and also communicating with the doctor. However, as the patient reaches adolescence and then young adulthood, management of care begins to shift into the patient’s hands, and they must learn to prioritize their symptoms and concerns and to communicate with the doctor.
Suzanne Ameringer, Ph.D., is a registered nurse and an associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Health Nursing in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing. Ameringer wants to empower adolescent and young adult patients to take control of their treatment through a symptom assessment tool.
Ameringer recently received a $25,000 award from the VCU Presidential Research Quest Fund that will allow her to complete a pilot study for the Computerized Symptom Capture Tool she helped design. C-SCAT is an iPad app for patients that allows them to draw a picture of their symptom experience before they meet with their doctor. The intent is to allow both patient and provider to communicate better about what is happening in the treatment.
Ameringer’s grant was one of more than 20 projects to receive funding this year through the PeRQ Fund. Funding totals more than $930,000, including matching funds from faculty departments and schools.