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App developed in collaboration with Dana-Farber researchers allows breast cancer survivors to share symptoms instantly

  • Share the Journey app part of new Apple software aiming to transform medical studies

    Ann Partridge, MD, MPH

    A new iPhone app launched by Apple today will for the first time provide physician researchers with instant data from breast cancer survivors with a goal of providing patients improved post-treatment quality of life. The Share the Journey app, developed by Sage Bionetworks, with the help of Ann Partridge, MD, MPH, senior physician at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber and founder and director of Dana–Farber’s Program for Young Women with Breast Cancer, enables breast cancer survivors to easily share side effects of breast cancer treatment with researchers.

    “This is a beautiful marriage of technology and medicine, and a potentially extraordinary resource for research and for learning about how what people are doing day-to-day may affect their post-treatment symptoms,” said Ann Partridge, MD, MPH, who is also the director of the Adult Survivorship Program at Dana-Farber. “For breast cancer survivors, this is an opportunity to work on improving health by harnessing a technology that is already part of their daily lives, where their experiences can be shared with the broader breast cancer community so they can support each other and learn from each other.”

    Women who have undergone surgery, radiation, or drug therapy to treat breast cancer may experience symptoms that affect quality of life and impede recovery. Participants in Share the Journey will be prompted to set personal exercise goals and write about activities that may positively or negatively affect their symptoms. By collecting this and other data from iPhone sensors, participant surveys, and health diaries, Share the Journey tracks five common consequences of breast cancer treatment: fatigue, cognitive difficulties, sleep disturbances, mood changes, and reduction in exercise performance.

    Participants will also be asked for feedback on how to enhance the study or better reflect their interests. These tasks and surveys should take no more than 20 minutes per week, and women who take part can participate in every aspect of the study or in only elements of their own choosing. Collecting women’s experiences after breast cancer treatment in this unique study can create a trove of data based on well-validated surveys and measurements continuously improved upon based on feedback from study participants.

    Share the Journey is part of the ResearchKit suite of apps unveiled by Apple today which makes it easier to recruit participants for large-scale studies, accessing a broad cross-section of the population. Study participants can complete tasks or submit surveys right from the app, and are presented with an interactive informed consent process, which helps explain the study's purpose and how data will be used. Judy Garber, MD, director of the Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention and physician in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women's Cancers at Dana-Farber, also advised in the app’s development.

Posted on March 09, 2015

  • Ann H. Partridge, MD, MPH
  • Breast Cancer
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