Article Text


Information and communication technology for managing pain in palliative care: a review of the literature
  1. Matthew J Allsop1,
  2. Sally Taylor1,
  3. Matthew R Mulvey1,
  4. Michael I Bennett1 and
  5. Bridgette M Bewick2
  1. 1Academic Unit of Palliative Care, Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK
  2. 2Academic Unit of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Matthew Allsop, Academic Unit of Palliative Care, Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, University of Leeds, Charles Thackrah Building, 101 Clarendon Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS2 9LJ, UK; m.j.allsop{at}


Background Information and communication technology (ICT) systems are being developed for electronic symptom reporting across different stages of the cancer trajectory with research in palliative care at an early stage.

Aim/design This paper presents the first systematic search of the literature to review existing ICT systems intended to support management of pain in palliative care patients with cancer. The review was conducted according to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines for systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

Data sources Four databases (Embase, MEDLINE, PsycINFO and Healthcare Management Information Consortium) from 1990 to December 2012 were searched, with exclusion of papers based on their description of ICT systems and language used.

Results 24 articles met the inclusion criteria, many of which reported the use of non-experimental research designs. Studies were identified at different stages of development with no systems having reached implementation. Most systems captured pain as part of quality-of-life measurement with wide variation in approaches to pain assessment.

Conclusions ICT systems for symptom reporting are emerging in the palliative care context. Future development of ICT systems need to increase the quality and scale of development work, consider how recommendations for pain measurement can be integrated and explore how to effectively use system feedback with patients.

  • Pain
  • Symptoms and symptom management
  • Communication
  • Clinical assessment

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