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Improving knowledge of kids' cancer pain through social media

Posted by Allison Gerrard on June 22, 2016 in News
A new partnership led by Dal's Dr. Christine Chambers and Dr. Jennifer Stinson from SickKids in Torontowill bring parents the best research evidence about pediatric cancer pain. (Provided photo)
A new partnership led by Dal's Dr. Christine Chambers and Dr. Jennifer Stinson from SickKids in Torontowill bring parents the best research evidence about pediatric cancer pain. (Provided photo)

Children with cancer experience pain – often severe and prolonged – over the course of their disease and treatment. 

“Unfortunately, we know that children with cancer don’t always receive the best evidence-based pain care possible,” says Dr. Christine Chambers, Canada Research Chair in Children’s Pain and professor in Dalhousie’s departments of Pediatrics and Psychology & Neuroscience. “But when parents have access to the right information, they can serve as powerful advocates and help improve their children's pain treatment.”

In an effort to bring the best research evidence about kids’ cancer pain to moms and dads, the Halifax-based Centre for Pediatric Pain Research is partnering with the Cancer Knowledge Network (CKN), North America’s most widely read online cancer education resource.

Making Cancer Less Painful for Kids launches

Over the next 12 months, the partnership will bring parents the best research evidence about pediatric cancer pain. The information will be shared through an integrated social media strategy called Making Cancer Less Painful for Kids (#KidsCancerPain). The group, led by Dr. Chambers and Dr. Jennifer Stinson from SickKids in Toronto, will also study the reach of the campaign and its impact on parents.

“This work will bridge a critical knowledge-to-action gap in children’s cancer pain by harnessing the power and reach of social media to ensure evidence-based information gets to parents,” says Dr. Chambers, clinical psychologist at the IWK Health Centre.

In general, efforts to improve pain management for children have primarily targeted health professionals, yet parents are key in helping their kids deal with pain symptoms.

“Our goal is to distill medical research into practical narratives – to increase parent awareness and use of evidence-based knowledge about children’s cancer pain,” says Dr. Chambers. “The partnership with the CKN is designed to improve quality of life for kids and families living with cancer.”

The Making Cancer Less Painful for Kids project is funded by a research grant from the Canadian Cancer Society.