Outcomes of a randomized controlled trial assessing a smartphone Application to reduce unmet needs among people diagnosed with CancEr (ACE)

Patricia M. Livingston, Leila Heckel, Liliana Orellana, David Ashley, Anna Ugalde, Mari Botti, Graham Pitson, Anne Woollett, Suzanne K. Chambers, Phillip Parente, Jacqueline Chirgwin, Cathrine Mihalopoulos, Barbara Lavelle, Jennifer Sutton, Jo Phipps-Nelson, Mei Krishnasamy, Katherine Simons, Natalie Heynsbergh, Nilmini Wickramasinghe, Vicki White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Smartphone technology represents an opportunity to deliver practical solutions for people affected by cancer at a scale that was previously unimaginable, such as information, appointment monitoring, and improved access to cancer support services. This study aimed to determine whether a smartphone application (app) reduced the unmet needs among people newly diagnosed with cancer. Methods: A single blind, multisite randomized controlled trial to determine the impact of an app-based, 4-month intervention. Newly diagnosed cancer patients were approached at three health service treatment clinics. Results: Eighty-two people were randomized (intervention; n = 43 and control; n = 39), average age was 59.5 years (SD: 12.9); 71% female; 67% married or in a de facto relationship. At baseline, there were no differences in participants’ characteristics between the groups. No significant effects, in reducing unmet needs, were demonstrated at the end of intervention (4-month) or 12-month follow-up. Overall, 94% used the app in weeks 1-4, which decreased to 41% in weeks 13-16. Mean app use time per participant: Cancer Information, 6.9 (SD: 18.9) minutes; Appointment Schedule, 5.1 (SD: 9.6) minutes; Cancer Services 1.5 minutes (SD: 6.8); Hospital Navigation, 1.4 (SD: 2.8) minutes. Conclusions: Despite consumer involvement in the design of this smartphone technology, the app did not reduce unmet needs. This may have been due to the study being underpowered. To contribute to a meaningful understanding and improved implementation of smartphone technology to support people affected by cancer, practical considerations, such as recruitment issues and access to, and confidence with, apps, need to be considered. Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registration (ACTRN) Trial Registration: 12616001251415; WEF 7/9/2016.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-516
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • cancer education
  • clinical cancer research
  • smartphone technology
  • translational research

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