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Elements of Family, Social Relationships, and Caregiving in Palliative Care mHealth: A Scoping Review (GP781)

Objectives: • Identify research-based and commercial mobile applications currently available to support palliative and end of life care. • Evaluate the utility of current palliative care and end of life mobile applications for families and caregiving support among diverse populations.  Importance: Mobile health (mHealth) can increase access to and awareness of palliative and end of life (PCEOL) care among patients, families, and caregivers from diverse backgrounds.  Objective(s): The objective of this scoping review is to describe the inclusion and features for family, social relationships, and caregivers in PCEOL-specific mHealth.  Method(s): We conducted a systematic search of PCEOL mHealth that included: 1) research-based mobile applications (apps) from PubMed, PsycINFO, and Web of Science published between 1/1/10-3/31/19, and 2) commercially available apps for iPhone, Google Play, and Amazon Appstore in April 2019. Apps were included if they focused on at least one element of PCEOL and targeted adults with serious life-limiting illness and/or their family and caregivers. Two reviewers independently assessed abstracts, app titles, and descriptions against the inclusion and exclusion criteria.  Findings: Overall, 10 articles describing 9 individual research-based apps and 22 commercially available apps were identified (N=32). Apps targeted symptom management (74.2%) followed by decision support (19.4%) and bereavement or grief (16.1%). Commercially available apps were designed for both patients and family caregivers (n=9/22, 40.9%), while research apps were designed for patient use (n=8/9, 88.9%). Features allowing the patient to share app-generated materials, e.g., advanced care directives or legacy projects, via email or text were the most common patient-caregiver features (n=10/22, 45.5%). Only 2/32 (6.3%) of apps considered contextual factors such as marriage, social isolation, or socioeconomic status of the patient or family caregivers.  Conclusion(s): Results suggest there is an emerging presence of apps for patients and caregivers dealing with serious illness, yet there are many needs for developers and researchers to address.  Impact: Additional research is needed for apps that embrace a team approach to information sharing, target family and caregiver specific issues, promote access to palliative care, and comprehensively address palliative needs.

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Journal of Pain & Symptom Management
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