RELIEF: A Digital Health Tool for the Remote Self-Reporting of Symptoms in Patients with Cancer to Address Palliative Care Needs and Minimize Emergency Department Visits Journal Articles uri icon

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  • The lack of timely symptom reporting remains a barrier to effective symptom management and comfort for patients with cancer-related palliative care needs. Poor symptom management at home can lead to unwanted outcomes, such as emergency department visits and death in hospital. We developed and evaluated RELIEF, a remote symptom self-reporting app for community patients with palliative care needs. A pilot feasibility study was conducted at a large, community hospital in Ontario, Canada. Patients self-reported their symptoms each morning using validated clinical symptom measures and RELIEF would alert for worsening or severe symptoms. RELIEF alerts were monitored by palliative care nurses who would then contact patients to determine if appropriate clinical intervention could be initiated to avoid unnecessary emergency department visits. A total of 20 patients were recruited to use RELIEF for two months. Patients completed 80% of daily self-report assessments; 133 alerts were trigged, half of which required clinical intervention. No patient visited the emergency department for symptom management during the study. Clinical staff estimated five emergency department visits were avoided because of RELIEF—saving an estimated cost of over CAD 60,000. RELIEF is a feasible and acceptable method for the remote monitoring of patients with palliative care needs through regular symptom self-reporting.


  • Bhargava, Ravi
  • Keating, Bonnie
  • Isenberg, Sarina R
  • Subramaniam, Saranjah
  • Wegier, Pete
  • Chasen, Martin

publication date

  • October 21, 2021