Grant Application

Mary McLaughlin, MSN, RN, OCN, D, MBA, UPMC Passavant Cancer Center


Proposed Innovation

Women with cancer face difficult health care and personal decisions. In order to engage in shared decision-making, they must first understand their options, discuss those options with their doctors, and carefully consider how these decisions will impact their lives.

Through this innovative project, a serious video game called “Strong Together” will be developed to teach female cancer patients to make decisions and advocate for their health and personal needs.


Improvements in Action

An expert panel of patients, health care providers, and researchers will work with a leading game development company to create “Strong Together.” Multiple rounds of testing by the panel will ensure the video game is both relevant and acceptable to patients.

The game, which will be played on iPads®, will present women with a diverse set of challenges commonly experienced by female cancer patients. As they respond, the women will immediately see the short- and long-term consequences of their decisions. It also will reinforce the health and psycho-social benefits of self-advocating, and the negative consequences of not self-advocating.


Results – In Progress

“Strong Together” is expected to teach patients to make informed decisions about their cancer, communicate more effectively with providers, and balance both giving and receiving support. Learning these skills will help to ensure that decisions are based on a thorough consideration of health information, health care conversations, and personal situations.

Outcomes will be measured through Information collected directly from patients regarding self-advocacy, distress, health care, symptom distress, quality of life, and perceptions of the game. In addition, feedback on usability will be gathered from registered nurses involved in the project.