5 recommendations improving mHealth for adolescent use

A study published in JMIR mHealth and uHealth includes a list of five recommendations for improving mHealth utilization for adolescents with chronic conditions. The researched aimed at improving disease self-management in adolescents by utilizing mHealth technology for real-time care.

Young adults with chronic illnesses often lack skills in self-management in following medical routines. In response, researchers hope to utilize mHealth to improve rates of self-care management in adolescents with brain and spinal cord anomalies (BSA). Using iMHere 2.0 (Interactive Mobile Health and Rehabilitation), the study collected data from patients and caregivers on how to best improve self-care routines and offer a more comprehensive view of care to providers.

The study enrolled 16 adolescents with BSA and 11 caregivers who were surveyed in six focus group sessions regarding current self-care management, development of mHealth systems to support self-management and prevention of medical problems.

The top five recommendations collected from the focus groups included:

  1. Make it Easy: Participants wanted an app that is easy to downlead and set up on a phone. Terms like “fast,” “bigger buttons,” “fewer keystrokes” and “colorful” were mentioned. Additionally, users wanted an app that was continuously updated, rather than having the user install the update.
  2. Engage: Apps that are interesting and engaging and terms of “convenient,” consolidated” and “fun” were included.
  3. Educate and Prepare: Participants wanted educational resources available on the app, and report knowing the benefits to educational resources. Assistance in tracking health issues and providing information on health trends was also a theme often mentioned.
  4. Motivate and Support: Users wanted the ability to received social feedback and support when they had difficult days. Sharing and connecting with others was also a major theme in communicating their care to others.
  5. Personalize: Participants wanted an app personalized to them. The ability to set goals and access information specifically regarding their care were actively reported.

“Our findings suggest that most individuals keep their mobile phones with them at all times and typically use a mobile phone for social media, music, photos, and texting,” concluded first author Roxanna M. Bendixen, PhD and colleagues. “Our qualitative analysis indicates that youth and young adults with BSA, as well as their caregivers, acknowledge the importance of being actively engaged in developing and using mHealth apps that monitor and manage their health care needs. Information gleaned from these focus group sessions and surveys have provided data to refine the iMHere 2.0 mHealth prototype platform that we have developed.”