A research team from Deakin University's School of Nursing and Midwifery has developed and tested a new mobile phone app that provides guidance for carers looking after people with cancer.

The Carer Guide app was tested with a 30-day pilot trial among a group of carers of colorectal cancer patients recruited from the Victorian health service, receiving positive responses from participants.

"Mobile technology like the Carer Guide has the capacity to contain all of the resources carers may require, so they don't have to spend hours sourcing information on the internet," researcher Natalie Heynsbergh told Healthcare IT News. "Having everything on an app also means that carers can access support as needs arise."

She explained that on a day-to-day basis this means that carers can look things up while they are waiting at appointments, or on the train coming home from work.

"More importantly, when something goes wrong at home the app means that they have all of the vital information and contact numbers in one spot, that they can quickly and confidently find the support they need when they are in a stressful situation," she noted.

Heynsbergh noted finding the right balance of information to put on to app was challenging.

"We had previously spoken to carers about designing an app for them and they identified that content would have to be specific to their situation to be useful," she said. "Trying to provide enough detailed information and resources to meet carers' needs, without it being too overwhelming took a lot of planning."

She said a lot of consideration also went into making the app simple and intuitive to use.

"Ideally we would like all carers to be able to access the app regardless of their skills or confidence in using technology," Heynsbergh said. "This was difficult to assess at the beginning as we had little to go off."

She added that, because there were no reports of apps for carers of adults with cancer, the team had to combine what they knew from carers and in other situations with use of technology in the general adult population.

Heynsbergh said the team is hoping to test the app further in a randomised controlled trial and have submitted a grant application for funding, and if successful they plan to update some features on the app and measure the impact of the app on carers' wellbeing outcomes.

"We are aiming to trial the app nationally which will give us great insight into whether one app can meet the needs of carers in Australia," she said.





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