Advancing the Science

Mayo Clinic Medical Science Blog – an eclectic collection of research- and research education-related stories: feature stories, mini news bites, learning opportunities, profiles and more from Mayo Clinic.

April 30, 2019

Emoji prove effective for monitoring cancer patients’ health

By Advancing the Science contributor

Life is complicated; a cancer diagnosis compounds that complication. When physicians find ways to help ease the complexities of a patient's treatment, it's a win.

Mayo Clinic researchers recently used emoji to help patients measure their overall well-being during treatment. The study used two scales — a mood scale and an ordinal scale — featuring a total of 10 different emoji.

The research looked at how doctors could track their patients' progress using an Apple Watch and an app on their phones. Patients could rate how they were feeling using a scale of universally recognized emojis.

"Medicine has gotten so complicated," says Carrie Thompson, M.D., a hematologist and the study's lead author. "So to have something simple that breaks down the barriers of communication, health literacy, language — we all know emoji. We all know what emotions various faces reflect."

Dr. Thompson hopes simpler communication with emojis will lead to better care of patients.

"If we can demonstrate that simple emoji are valid and reliable measurements of patient well-being, it could transform the way patient well-being assessments are accomplished," Dr. Thompson says.

This article originally appeared on Mayo Clinic's Philanthropy in Action blog.

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Tags: cancer, Carrie Thompson, Findings, hematology, News, patient reported outcomes

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