APSCO app to help patients self-evaluate cancer distress levels

Newsroom 14/01/2016 | 13:29

The APSCO application dedicated to supporting cancer patients by helping them self-evaluate their cancer distress levels was launched Wednesday at the Sociology and Social Assistance Faculty of the Cluj-Napoca Babes-Bolyai University, according to the UBB website.

The APSCO app is “the first computerized instrument for automatic cancer distress screening for cancer patients and loved ones around them and for professionals” and aims to “develop and promote communication in oncology in Romania, a country suffering from a deficit when it comes to psycho-oncology and where the culture of asking for help is problematic”, details the UBB website.

The app is available on the Android platform in Romanian and Hungarian and is tailored to screen for cancer distress, “a type of stress generated by sickness”, said Degi Csaba, project coordinator for the APSCO app, at a press conference on Wednesday. “The patient can monitor his or her distress level to see if it is or not critical. The application helps you know what your limit for psychological suffering is, moment when you need extra resources for help”, added Csaba. It doesn’t replace regular therapy, being instead comparable with blood sugar monitoring instruments used by diabetes patients, and contains a database of helpful associations, support groups and medical institutions from all over the country, according to Csaba, cited by Agerpres.

Among the information required for the app to work is a self-evaluation on a scale of 1 to 10 of the four emotion thermometers that indicate stress, anxiety, depression and anger levels, details the project’s website. “Ideally Romanian oncological institutions would be equipped with cheap tablets, and patients waiting there could evaluate their state quickly. Once in the doctor’s office, he or she would have all the information on hand to know what the patient’s mental state is”, said Csaba, cited by Agerpres. In Romania cancer distress evaluation “is not a priority” and “the percentage of cancer patients displaying clinical depression and anxiety symptoms is huge, over 45 percent”, added Csaba.

The APSCO app is supported by a grant from the Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research, and is part of the wider APSCO research project focusing on psycho-social aspects of cancer in oncology institutions, supportive care groups and in palliative services in Romania, according to the project’s website.

Andreea Tint

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