PURPOSE: It is important to support families in dealing with the distress that comes along with the diagnosis and treatment of childhood cancer. Therefore, we developed a playful tool that families can use at home to support their family functioning and safeguard their normal family life. We pilot tested this new tool called Mr.V and describe how families used and evaluated the tool, and how it could be further improved.
METHODS: Mr.V is an interactive dispenser that looks like a spaceman and proposes family activities. These activities are suggested by family members themselves and dispensed by the machine at unexpected moments. Mr.V produced data on how it was used, and a questionnaire and a semi-structured interview were used to evaluate the experiences of families and the potential of this tool.
RESULTS: Ten families with a child with cancer between 5 and 9 years old (Mage = 6.7 years) who were in active treatment (mixed diagnoses) participated (n = 47; npatients = 10, nsiblings = 9, nparents = 16). All families used Mr.V for multiple days and were very satisfied with the tool regarding its acceptability, feasibility, and potential effectiveness. They also had suggestions on how the tool could be further improved.
CONCLUSION: Mr.V is an acceptable and feasible tool that can be implemented by families independently at home, regardless of their level of need for support. Mr.V promoted family activities and therefore has the potential to support family functioning and normal family life at home. Future research should further investigate the effectiveness of this tool.