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CD-ROM Helps Cancer Patients Ease the Pain

CD-ROM Helps Cancer Patients Ease the Pain

A life with cancer is often a life with pain. But it does not have to be that way.

Physicians and award-winning multimedia designers at Michigan State University have developed a new CD-ROM that addresses the issue of pain and cancer. Interactive and visual, Easing Cancer Pain gives people with cancer the information they need to help overcome their pain.

"Easing Cancer Pain empowers those with cancer who suffer from pain by providing them with a variety of resources to help them understand their pain and seek effective treatment," said Karen Ogle, a physician in MSU’s Department of Family Practice and one of the developers of the CD-ROM.

Several Options Available

The CD-ROM, whose subtitle is Fireside Retreat, literally "takes the person with cancer to camp," said designer and associate journalism professor Darcy Drew Greene. After making a stop at the "lodge," the viewer can choose from several options, all of which provide information the pain sufferer can put to use. Among the choices:

  • Personal Story Campfire," where men and women of many ages and cultural backgrounds, as well as their family members, tell of their cancer and pain experiences.

  • "Treatment Forest," a place in which the viewer can learn of the various treatments available, including narcotics, nonnarcotics, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

  • "Barrier Dunes," a place that discusses the reasons why some pain sufferers do not seek help. Among those barriers: a fear of drug addiction, a reluctance to appear as a "complainer," and a belief that any suffering one experiences is deserved.

  • "Assessment Lake," where patients can learn about the common techniques of pain assessment.

Another part of the CD-ROM is an interview with Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern hospice movement. "She was the first physician to really pay attention to the care of the dying," Ogle said.

"Unlike brochures or videos that recite the same facts to every consumer, the interactive qualities of this program allow users to tailor it to their needs," Ogle said. "They can access any information contained in the software, in any order, and spend as much time going into as great a depth as they desire."

"Dr. Ogle has produced an exciting new approach to providing important information for cancer patients," said G. Marie Swanson, director of the Cancer Center at MSU. "Her expertise, combined with the technical skills of her collaborators in the CommTech lab, will place MSU at the forefront of one of today’s most important issues for cancer patients--treating cancer pain."

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