Feasibility and preliminary efficacy study of an online pain management programme for children undergoing major orthopedic surgery: iCanCope Post-Op Surgery

After major surgery,  one in four children experience chronic post-surgical pain (i.e., pain that lasts longer than 3 months). Children and adolescents report that chronic pain makes them feel insecure, affects school attendance and affacts their relationships with friends and family. It is important that children and adolescents learn ways to cope with acute (or short-term) pain so that it doesn't become chronic. Mobile apps have the potential to give children and adolescents practical tools to deal with their pain.

Experts from SickKids Hospital in Toronto have developed an app called iCanCope PostOp to help kids deal with pain after surgiery. It has 4 elements:

  1. Tracking symptoms – what makes the pain worse, why and when;
  2. Setting goals that are realistic and achievable
  3. Different ways to manage pain
  4. Peers sharing successful coping skills

The Centre for Pain Research, NUI Galway is working with colleagues from SickKids, families with adolescents following major orthopaedic surgery and health care professionals to test if  iCanCope PostOp app works for irish children.

We plan to:

  1. Ask ‘experts by experience’ (children, parents and health professionals) what changes need to be made to the Canadian iCanCope PostOp to work in Ireland.
  2. Create an Irish version of iCanCope PostOp and test it to make sure it is easy to use.
  3. Test the effectiveness of the app with 60 adolescents aged 12 -18 years: half use the app for 2 weeks as well as having usual medical care, while the other half have usual medical care only. Adolescents and parents will answer questions before and afterwards, to find out if any differences in levels of pain and being able to cope are due to using the app. 

If shown to be effective, the app could then be shared with adolescents in other English-speaking countries

Award Date
07 March 2019
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Professor Brian McGuire
Host Institution
National University of Ireland, Galway