Utilization of the Medical Research Council evaluation framework in the development of technology for symptom management: the ASyMS-YG Study

Cancer Nurs. Sep-Oct 2010;33(5):343-52. doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e3181cb4bad.


Background: Technology is becoming an important medium for supporting patients in health care. However, successful application depends on user acceptability. The Advanced Symptom Management System (ASyMS) involves patients reporting cancer chemotherapy-related symptoms using mobile phone technology.

Objective: The aim of this article was to report a study of how young people were involved in the development of ASyMS using the Medical Research Council framework for evaluating complex interventions.

Methods: A convenience sample of young people aged 13 to 18 years undergoing cancer chemotherapy were recruited from 2 principal cancer treatment centers in London.

Results: In phase 1, young people selected 5 symptoms from an adapted version of the Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale that were most important to them. In phase 2, young people completed the ASyMS-YG PDA (personal digital assistant) questionnaire daily on days 1 to 14 of a cycle of chemotherapy and pre/post-use questionnaires. In phase 1, 5 young people chose diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and weight loss as the most important symptoms. In phase 2, 25 young people reported positively to using PDA technology, found ASyMS-YG simple and easy to complete, and liked that they were monitored at home. In addition to the 5 core symptoms, the ASyMS-YG reports showed the number (n = 37) of other symptoms young people experienced.

Conclusions: This early development work indicates the acceptability of ASyMS-YG and has informed an exploratory trial (phase 3) and randomized controlled trial (stage 4).

Implications for practice: This study reaffirms the importance of promoting communication between young people and health professionals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Perception*
  • Psychometrics
  • Qualitative Research
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors


  • Antineoplastic Agents