Online interventions for teens effective in improving care

Teens, no doubt, are attached to their phones and love consuming electronic media--and a new study shows that electronic media-based health interventions can actually promote health behavior change among youth populations.

Published in JAMA Pediatrics, the study aimed to assess the type and quality of the studies evaluating the effects of electronic media-based interventions on health and safety behavior change.

Using searches in MEDLINE and PsychInfo through 2010, the review included published studies of electronic-media tailored interventions, focusing on health behavior changes in children 18 years of age or younger.

Nineteen studies focused on at least one behavior change outcome, with asthma the focus of six studies. Electronic interventions improved asthma self-management with lowered asthma symptoms scores, lowered clinical appointment return rates and reduced oral steroid use.

According to the study's authors, 17 studies reported "at least one statistically significant effect on behavior change outcomes, including an increase in fruit, juice, or vegetable consumption; an increase in physical activity; improved asthma self-management; acquisition of street and fire safety skills; and sexual abstinence."

A MedPageToday article on the study noted that the media content utilized included video games, video clips, CD-Roms, and Internet-based interventions.

The study concluded that interventions using electronic media can improve health and safety behaviors in young people, but that higher-quality, more rigorous interventions are necessary for continued promotion of behavior change.

In some cases, electronic interventions have revealed ambiguous results for certain groups. A recent study found that women with chronic widespread pain only exhibited "modest" evidence supporting the long-term effect of a smartphone-based intervention.

Meanwhile, research published last month determined that self-managed online interventions were ineffective for diabetes patients. Online programs have proved their usefulness for depression and anxiety interventions, however.

To learn more:
- read the JAMA Pediatrics abstract
- here's the MedPage Today article

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