Telecommunication system for children undergoing stem cell transplantation

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Background:Isolation in a germ–free unit is a stressful experience for pediatric patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). To reduce the psychological distress of such children, a Web–based telecommunications system was developed.Methods:The authors developed a telecommunication system that linked a laminar air flow (LAF) room that had a high efficiency particulate air filter with the hospital school/patients' homes via the Internet. Fifteen children isolated in the LAF room for allogeneic HSCT were enrolled in this study. The present study evaluated whether the system was feasible for the patients during the acute phase of HSCT.Results:In 10 patients, the proportion of days when they telecommunicated with teachers and/or other patients in the hospital school was 64.6 ± 32.3%. The telecommunication with the hospital school facilitated the continuation of school study under teachers' guidance, reducing the problem of lost schooling. In 13 patients, the proportion of days when they telecommunicated with their homes was 68.0 ± 34.8%. Ten of them frequently telecommunicated with their family members (especially siblings), and three patients called out to their pets at home. The incidence of telecommunication on the days when the patients had HSCT–related symptoms including vomiting did not differ from that of telecommunication on the days when no symptoms were evident.Conclusions:A telecommunication system linked to a hospital school and/or the patients' homes is feasible for children undergoing HSCT, and may improve their health–related quality of life. A larger, prospective study is required to evaluate whether the telecommunication system can reduce HSCT–associated psychological and psychiatric symptoms.

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