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UT launches new app that offers emotional support to people with cancer

The University of Twente has now launched the free app ‘Compas-Y’. This app is intended for people diagnosed with cancer in the past year. Cancer almost always has a tremendous impact on people’s lives. How do you deal with the many emotions and uncertainties that come with the diagnosis and treatment? For most, this is not an easy task. To help support cancer patients in these challenging times, University of Twente and UMCG researchers have teamed up with the MST hospital and patients and nursing staff to develop an app aimed at boosting resilience. An accessible tool that could provide some much-needed support mainly in the first year following diagnosis.

Self-compassion

This app is based on self-compassion, a kind and supportive way of relating to yourself in difficult times. Self-compassion is about taking care of yourself, and that may look different for everybody. More and more research is showing that self-compassion training can help cancer patients reduce their anxiety and distress. It can also help them be less critical of themselves, and improve their well-being. But a training specifically aimed at people with cancer, and as a smartphone app, that was still missing so far. Yet in the chaotic times after a diagnosis, it can be especially helpful to have a source of support to use in your own time and in your own surroundings. 

The Compas-Y app

Compas-Y has been developed in full cooperation with patients and nurses. In a series of workshops, the experiences of people with cancer following a cancer diagnosis were first explored very broadly. What kind of support is already available, and what is still missing? Next, participants tried out various self-compassion exercises. They also discussed which important topics should be part of the app, such as setting boundaries and taking care of your body.

The result of these workshops is Compas-Y. Patients can use the app to learn more about challenges that people with cancer often face, through videos, texts, exercises and illustrations. And about how to deal with these challenges in a kind and supportive way. Every week new topics and exercises become available, for a period of six weeks. Patients can use the app in their own way and in their own time. The first participants have already started using the app. A patient described: "It is clear that the app has been very important to me. The app made it easier for me to let go of work, or to say hey, listen to my body, I'll stop for today." 

Partners

Compas-Y will also be offered by nurses to hospital patients in the context of further study, at the Medisch Spectrum Twente (MST), University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) and Zuyderland.

Registration for the app and the study

The University of Twente now wants to investigate whether the free Compas-Y app works well for people who have recently been diagnosed with cancer. The app (available in Dutch) is being offered by nurses to patients in participating hospitals, but people with all types of cancer who have been diagnosed in the past year can now also sign up directly at www.compas-y.nl. In the context of the study, they will receive access to the app directly after filling out a questionnaire. For more information, contact Judith Austin, Faculty BMS (department PHT). This research is funded by KWF.