Recently, the CDC Foundation launched an educational tool using TINA, a virtual human technology, aimed to improve patient-provider conversations about a side effect of chemotherapy that may increase infection risk, called neutropenia. This resource is part of the Preventing Infections in Cancer Patients (PICP) program, led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the CDC Foundation.
TINA is available as a free mobile app and is on PreventCancerInfections.org, and features two separate role-play conversations for providers and patients:
- TINA‒Training for Infection and Neutropenia Awareness, offers providers a safe and realistic training environment to practice meaningful and appropriate conversations with cancer patients about neutropenia;
- TINA‒Talking about Infection and Neutropenia Awareness, introduces patients to a virtual provider, TINA, who will answer their questions about infection risk and the steps they can take to protect themselves.
The role patient-clinician communication plays in optimizing health outcomes can be extremely important, especially for those diagnosed with cancer where uncertainty and stress levels may rise. In this instance, TINA, a virtual human, acts as a communication supplement that provides a safe, engaging, and non-confrontational experience for the patient. This can provide clinicians with a more honest overview on how the patient is handling the entire process.
“People dealing with a cancer diagnosis are incredibly overwhelmed with information, yet learning about the steps they can take to lower their risk of infection during chemotherapy is critical,” explains Lisa Richardson, MD, MPH, director of CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. “TINA is the first-ever tool developed to engage both patients and providers in an educational and informative way. Our hope is that TINA can help facilitate more effective communication about this serious side effect of chemotherapy.”