A diagnosis of cancer often hangs over a person for years. A cancer diagnosis often represents a much greater burden for children than for adults because they have not yet learned to cope with their worries, may not have had to deal with illness and death, and are not yet able to look back on a long, fulfilling life.
Aim: To adapt an app to children that has already been proven effective for adults with depressive symptoms and low self-esteem.
Our research group at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (Germany) has developed the app "Be good to yourself” (“Tu Dir gut” in German) and has successfully tested it for effectiveness (for the journal article, see pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30273901/
). This app, part of our MCT & More intervention (MCT stands for metacognitive training), is available free of charge and without advertising in English and German and other languages in the App Store
, Google Play
, and at uke.de/mct_app
. Previous studies have shown that our approach helps to reduce symptoms of depression and low self-esteem. However, the current app is aimed primarily at an adult audience and does not address cancer as a diagnosis.
The aim of "Mäxchen," (in English: Maxie) our new app for children, is to bring some fun into the lives of children with cancer through playful exercises and personalized surprises and to improve their self-esteem and how they deal with worry. The app works like an Advent calendar but has many more than 24 doors to open. Every day, at two times they choose, the child will get an app notification sent to them. In addition to the exercises and ideas we've put together, the notifications can contain things that the child's parents and friends have added (e.g., a short voice message from the child’s grandparents or a photo of a beloved pet or a comic book hero).
Mäxchen was the nickname of the project leader's sister, who died of cancer in November 2020. This app is dedicated to her memory.