UW Health: Study looks at symptom management for end-of-life pediatric cancer patients

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Study to look at symptom management for end-of-life pediatric cancer patients

MADISON- An American Family Children’s Hospital nurse who has an affiliate appointment at the University of Wisconsin School of Nursing plans to research a way to better manage symptoms for dying pediatric cancer patients.

“We know from earlier research that children who die a cancer-related death experience two to eight poorly-controlled symptoms,” said Kathleen Montgomery, a pediatric oncology nurse.

The research is funded by the Nursing Research Fellowship Award of $92,000 from Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a foundation that is dedicated to the mission of finding better treatments and ultimately cures for all kids with cancer. Montgomery is the first to receive the two-year fellowship.

The multi-site study will enroll 60 patients and their parents or guardians at UW Health’s American Family Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Colorado, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.

Every two weeks, the participants will get a survey by e-mail or text in which they will document symptoms. Researchers will use survey responses and information from patients’ medical records to improve understanding of the symptom experience.

“Electronic data collection in the home setting may help clinicians intervene in a timely way on patient-reported symptoms that are increasing in severity, frequency and/or level of distress,” said Montgomery.

The study will also preliminarily explore how symptom assessment may influence clinical and operational outcomes like hospital acute and critical care length of stay, emergency department visits and clinic visits.

“Results of the study may be used to create models of care that better connect patients with their health-care team in a less burdensome way and improve the symptom experience during the end of life,” said Montgomery.

School of Nursing Professor Kristine Kwekkeboom is Montgomery’s senior faculty partner for the research project, while Marilyn Hockenberry of Duke University and Ki Moore of the University of Arizona will serve as her fellowship mentors.