Reviewed by: David Henry, M.S., FASHP, University of Kansas Medical
Center, Department of Pharmacy, 3901 Rainbow Boulevard, Kansas City, KS
Educating children with leukemia and their families about the
disease is difficult, given the amount of information and the trying
circumstances. Pharmacists are part of the team involved in education,
along with physicians and nurses specializing in pediatric
Kidz with Leukemia: A Space Adventure is a successful
attempt to support patient education. It combines games, videos, and text
to teach the CD-ROM user about acute leukemia and the tests and
The CD-ROM uses cartoon-character “space buddies” to
guide the viewer through its various sections: the Space Mall, The Get
Better Place, Help Yourself, The Movies, Testing Center, and Fill-N-Fly.
Accurate medical information is presented in a way that is educational but
also fun. A user can choose to enter the program as a four- to six-year
old, a child seven and up, or an adult. The games containing medical
information are set up so that the viewer can choose from two or three
levels of difficulty. The technology used for this CD-ROM requires
downloading a free software (QuickTime), but clear instructions are
provided. Minimal and recommended computer requirements are listed on the
Web site and the CD-ROM.
The CD-ROM provides information covering a wide variety of
topics for patients with acute myelogenous leukemia and acute lymphoblastic
or lymphocytic leukemia and family members. Introductory topics include
what leukemia is, what a research study is, definitions of medical terms,
basic descriptions of major organs and their functions, a medical database,
frequently asked questions for parents, and links to Internet sites for
medical information, financial assistance, wish-fulfillment organizations,
and the Candlelighters CHildhood Cancer Foundation. The medication database
includes chemotherapy drugs as well as antimicrobials and ancillary drugs.
It recommends that patients check with their doctor or pharmacist before
taking new medications.
The CD-ROM includes a brief video tour of a typical hospital,
including the pharmacy. It has a section with videotapes showing
physicians, nurses, social workers, and occupational therapists at work and
explaining who these health professionals are and what their role in a
leukemia patient's care is. In a separate section, “I'm the
Pharmacist,” a “space buddy” pharmacist explains
antineoplastics, sedatives and local anesthetics for procedures, and routes
of administration. Psychological issues are also addressed. Patients can
click and drag objects to decorate their virtual hospital rooms, hear how
other patients often feel, and color pictures. Two leukemia survivors
describe what they have been through in one video. Another section is
dedicated to siblings and discusses the concerns and feelings siblings have
as their family members go through treatment.
The laboratory section includes videos that show various
procedures (magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, etc) and
methods for blood drawing. Another section discusses red blood cell and
platelet tansfusions. Eating while undergoing chemotherapy, washing hands
properly, and mouth care are also covered.
Kidz with Leukemia: A Space Adventure is educational
for the whole family. It is geared to a wide range of ages. The
information provided is accurate, and technology is used cleverly to make
learning more fun and more complete. This CD-ROM is not a substitute for
face-to-face education by health professionals, but it is an excellent aid.
There are some weaknesses, though. The specifics of drug regimens are left
out. A few drugs that might be covered, such as meropenem, are missing.
The most obvious deficiency is a lack of information on monitoring for
fevers and other adverse effects that may merit contacting a health
professional. There is also no discussion of late effects: secondary
leukemias or long-term toxicities of drugs. Division of the material into
sections makes it easier to go back and review specific topics later.
Overall, this CD-ROM provides a comprehensive, if basic, view of acute
leukemia and treatment. It is a useful educational aid for children
undergoing treatment for leukemia and their families.