Evaluation of Sisom: A computer-based animated tool to elicit symptoms and psychosocial concerns from children with cancer

Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2015 Aug;19(4):359-69. doi: 10.1016/j.ejon.2015.01.006. Epub 2015 Feb 15.


Purpose: In pediatric oncology, clear communication regarding symptom occurrence between clinicians and children is essential in order to provide safe and effective care. Mobile technology provides a means to enhance the standard clinician-patient interview, particularly among children, who are well versed in the use of technology. To help children identify and voice their concerns in the health care setting, researchers created Sisom, an animated computer tool for children and young people with serious and chronic illnesses. The purposes of this study of 100 dyads of patients 7-12 years of age and their parents were to: compare participants' reports of symptom occurrence using Sisom to a standard symptom checklist and determine the time requirements, ease of use, and perceived usefulness of the Sisom tool by children with cancer and their parents.

Methods: Child and parent participants completed both Sisom and the Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale. Symptoms on the two tools were compared and 20 items were similar to allow for comparisons.

Results: Children reported a significantly higher number of these 20 symptoms using Sisom as compared to the MSAS (i.e., 6.8 versus 4.9 symptoms, p < 0.001). A similar pattern was noted for parental proxy reports (i.e., 8.7 versus 5.7 symptoms, p < 0.001). Sisom was completed in less than 30 min, with high ratings of ease of use and perceived usefulness from parent participants.

Conclusions: Sisom provides a systematic and engaging method to elicit symptom reports from children for use in clinical care and research.

Keywords: Cancer; Children; Mobile technology; Multimedia; Symptom assessment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Communication*
  • Computers, Handheld*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • User-Computer Interface