Introduction Pain experienced by advanced cancer patients is often poorly controlled due to inadequate monitoring or assessment. There is growing interest internationally in the development and implementation of remote monitoring technologies to enhance pain assessment. The aim of this study was to test an electronic pain monitoring system (PainCheck) with advanced cancer patients and health professionals and to explore how the system could be integrated into clinical practice.
Methods The think aloud method was used to gain an understanding of how patients and health professionals might use PainCheck. Twenty-nine participants (advanced cancer patients (N = 13), GPs (N = 4), community nurse specialists (N = 4), district nurses (N = 3), palliative care doctors (N = 5)) completed PainCheck while thinking their thoughts aloud. Patients completed the PainCheck assessment and explored their personalised feedback. Health professionals accessed a research version of PainCheck which contained reports from simulated patients. All participants were given minimal explanation of the system and were asked to use it as they would in their role as patient/health professional. After the think aloud, both groups were asked about their experiences. Think-aloud and semi-structured interview data were analysed using framework analysis.
Results Health professionals were able to use PainCheck easily without instruction and were quickly able to consider its application into clinical practice. Patients needed a little more support when using PainCheck. Both groups identified potential benefits of using PainCheck such as improved monitoring and quicker access to advice and support. There were, however, some concerns about the potential burden and impact on time for patients and health professionals and fears that problems may be overlooked if PainCheck was not routinely monitored.
Conclusion PainCheck is acceptable to patients and health professionals but guidance on its use and the expectations of its users need to be clarified before it is integrated into clinical practice.
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