Study shows technology improves transition into adulthood for teens with chronic disease.
Adolescents with chronic diseases (ACD), such as cystic fibrosis, gastrointestinal disorders (including Crohn’s disease) and Type 1 diabetes, often find the transition of managing their health care needs into adulthood to be challenging. Preparations for this transition are often clinic-based, costly and do not fully or effectively engage with this patient population. A new study by researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine found the answer to developing independent, self-management skills in ACD could be right at the patient’s fingertips.
The study is published in the June issue of Pediatrics.
Eighty-one patients, ranging from 12-to-20-years-old, participated in the eight-month study. Those assigned to the intervention group received an Internet and mobile phone system. Patients were asked to use a secure website weekly to receive theme-based materials and lifestyle tips. Automated text messages were also sent three to five times a week to help patients perform a variety of tasks, such as monitoring symptoms, keeping appointments and interpreting medical bills.
“Parents usually take a leading role when treating adolescents with chronic disease, but we want teenage patients to have a voice and become advocates for their own health,” said principal investigator Jeannie Huang, M.D., with the Department of Pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine and Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego. “The goal of the program is ultimately to improve communications between affected teens and their doctors.”