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Multimedia Computer Program Patiently Answers Young Cancer Patients' Questions

Multimedia Computer Program Patiently Answers Young Cancer Patients' Questions

BUFFALO, NY--When young cancer patients have a question about
their illness, they need an educator who has time and patience,
and can talk to them in language they can understand.

The Pediatric Multimedia Project (PMP), a new interactive computer
program developed by researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute,
is providing just such personalized cancer information to young
patients and their families.

"Although a wealth of information is available for cancer
patients, it's useful only if they know how to properly access,
correctly interpret, and effectively personalize it," said
Michael A. Zevon, PhD, chairman of the Department of Psychology
at Roswell Park, who helped develop the program.

Dr. Zevon and his Roswell Park colleagues demonstrated the PMP
at the 4th International Conference on Long-Term Complications
of Treatment of Children and Adolescents for Cancer, co-sponsored
by Bristol-Myers Squibb Oncology and the National Cancer Institute
(NCI).

"Young cancer patients and their families are typically forced
to learn within a classroom in crisis, the least desirable situation
for processing new information," Dr. Zevon said. The PMP
allows a more relaxed learning atmosphere. It engages the user
by integrating audio, text, video, graphics, and animation, and
provides individualized, on-demand information.

A family with a child newly diagnosed with cancer, for example,
will be able to look up other families whose children are receiving
treatment at Roswell Park. The family can watch and listen as
others describe their thoughts on effective coping. Selecting
from a menu of specific topics, the family can view a presentation
of the same family discussing the selected topic. The family will
have the option of making personal contact with the "computer"
family.

If a family wants information on blood counts, the PMP illustrates
the various blood components, explains their functions, defines
counts, and provides a printed guide to understanding the information
about the importance of the child's hematologic status during
cancer treatment.

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