A team of University of Alabama at Birmingham faculty and students have created a free, downloadable smartphone application to help health care providers and cancer patients identify more than 500 valuable community resources for people in North Central Alabama battling cancer.
The Cancer Resource app enables providers and patients to search for resources by type, target audience and counties served, including in Blount, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair and Walker counties.
“We engaged the Supportive Care and Survivorship Clinic, located within the Multidisciplinary Breast Health Clinic at The Kirklin Clinic, oncology nurses from the surrounding areas, and nursing students with an interest in oncology to develop an app that can be used by caregivers or patients to identify areas of distress for breast cancer patients,” said Debbie Walker, DNP, assistant professor in UAB’s School of Nursing and leader of the project. “While the app was originally designed for breast cancer patients, a good number of the resources are not breast cancer-specific. They go across many different cancers and can benefit any patient who has cancer and needs to find resources, including support groups, wig shops, prosthetics shops, and learning centers that accept children with or recovering from cancer.”
Funding and support for the Cancer Resource app were made available by the Women’s Breast Health Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham as part of an effort to improve the quality of life of breast cancer survivors and their loved ones.
The app provides an address and phone number for each resource, as well as an interactive map and website when available. Some of the app’s features include:
- Search individually by service, county or target audience, or search all three categories at once
- Review more than 500 resources at once
- Save resources to a list within the app, and email them
- Save resources to a personal list of favorites
The impetus for the app’s creation stemmed from The Susan G. Komen Foundation’s 2011 Breast Health Community Assessment, which identified the need for community resources to be available for cancer patients and providers throughout North Central Alabama, and the need for these resources to be easily accessible for health care providers when they render care to breast cancer patients.
The American Cancer Society estimated 3,720 new breast cancer cases were diagnosed in Alabama in 2013, with an incidence of 119.4 per 100,000 people in Alabama, including 82.81 to 116.89 per 100,000 in Jefferson and surrounding counties.
“There was a clear need to identify local community resources for breast cancer patients, and it’s a huge bonus that the app also can help other cancer patients in the five-county area,” said Walker, an oncology nurse practitioner for the past 15 years. “I hope the app provides patients with a feeling of control over their circumstance.”
There are plans to grow the app to include other counties in Alabama and, hopefully, Walker said, extend it beyond the state.
Other UAB staff members involved in the creation of the app include Larry Owen, a senior systems analyst and director of the Software Engineering and Prototyping Lab in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Mathew Jennings, instructional design specialist in the School of Nursing. Students who assisted on the project include Jamal Harris, a computer science major and developer in the Software Engineering and Prototyping Lab, and Amber Hardeman, a graduate student in the School of Public Health.
For more information, or to add a cancer resource, email Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org.