The use of interactive toys in pediatric clinical trials

by Aaron Horowitz

Coauthors: Jacqui Whiteway,, Mark Sorrentino (, Jo Dewhurst

Pediatric Nanomedicine or Robotics

Partaking in frequent health care, whether through standard of care or clinical trials, can elicit emotional stress in children and their care circles. Stress during clinical trials for children and families can lead to higher participant dropout rates for a clinical trial and potentially inaccurate self-reporting of trial outcomes. We aim to study Sproutel’s interactive, plush companion, Purrble, and its ability to assist children in self-regulating their stress and emotions during participation in a clinical trial. In this feasibility study, parents/caregivers, investigators, and children over the age of 5 will be surveyed with a few basic questions using a validated self-reported survey measure at the midpoint of the trial and at completion of the trial. Survey questions will center around the child’s interaction with and use of Purrble in perceived stressful moments of their illness or of receiving care for their illness. Results will be used to determine if and how tools like Purrble could be used to support a child throughout their clinical trial journey.
Long term follow-up study interests include further development and exploration of the use of interactive tools to support children’s understanding of clinical trial participation and support their trial journey. Additional related study interests extend the same tool exploration to adult populations, particularly adults with neurocognitive disorders and intellectual disabilities. As society and the medical field place increasing focus on treating stress, mitigation of the deleterious impacts of clinical trial participation will be an important factor to the continued adoption of clinical trials as a care option.