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Digital interventions for parents of acutely ill children and their treatment-seeking behaviour: a systematic review

Digital interventions for parents of acutely ill children and their treatment-seeking behaviour: a systematic review
Digital interventions for parents of acutely ill children and their treatment-seeking behaviour: a systematic review
Background: consultations for self-limiting infections in children are increasing. Digital technology has been proposed to enable parents’ decision making for self-care and treatment-seeking.

Aim: to evaluate the evidence for digital interventions in enabling parents’ decisions on self-care and treatment-seeking for acute illnesses in children.
Design and setting: Systematic review.

Method: MEDLINE and EMBASE searched from inception to January 2019 for studies assessing digital interventions for parents of children with acute illnesses.

Results: three studies involving 4838 participants were included. They assessed ‘Children’s On Call’ (US advice-only app), ‘Should I see a doctor?’ (Dutch self-triage app for any acute illness) and ‘SORT for Kids’ (US self-triage website for influenza-like illness). None of these involved parents during intervention development, and many parents did not find the first two apps easy to use. The sensitivity of self-triage interventions was 84% for ‘Should I see a doctor?’ compared to nurse triage, and 93% for ‘Sort for Kids’ compared to the need for emergency department intervention, but both had lower specificity (74% and 13% respectively). None demonstrated reduced use of urgent care services. Although 65% of ‘Should I see a doctor?’ users stated that they intended to follow the app’s advice, the proportion who heeded this advice wasn’t reported.

Conclusion: there is little evidence for the use of digital interventions to support parent/carers looking after children with acute illness. Future research should involve parents during intervention development, and adequately-powered trials are needed to assess impact on health services and the identification of seriously ill children.
Acute disease, Child health, Digital intervention, Mhealth, Primary care
0960-1643
e172-e178
Donovan, Emily
b7b59e0a-40f0-43a3-aa52-e832f72db058
Wilcox, Christopher
e2c4c36a-e2e5-43a5-9fd6-7198cc15dd53
Patel, Sanjay
bc976df6-0414-459f-8390-3eca85e07d97
Little, Paul
1bf2d1f7-200c-47a5-ab16-fe5a8756a777
Hay, Alastair
e493ad13-cd46-4587-88f8-45f789fdb878
Willcox, Merlin
dad5b622-9ac2-417d-9b2e-aad41b64ffea
Donovan, Emily
b7b59e0a-40f0-43a3-aa52-e832f72db058
Wilcox, Christopher
e2c4c36a-e2e5-43a5-9fd6-7198cc15dd53
Patel, Sanjay
bc976df6-0414-459f-8390-3eca85e07d97
Little, Paul
1bf2d1f7-200c-47a5-ab16-fe5a8756a777
Hay, Alastair
e493ad13-cd46-4587-88f8-45f789fdb878
Willcox, Merlin
dad5b622-9ac2-417d-9b2e-aad41b64ffea

Donovan, Emily, Wilcox, Christopher, Patel, Sanjay, Little, Paul, Hay, Alastair and Willcox, Merlin (2020) Digital interventions for parents of acutely ill children and their treatment-seeking behaviour: a systematic review. British Journal of General Practice, 70 (692), e172-e178. (doi:10.3399/bjgp20X708209).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Background: consultations for self-limiting infections in children are increasing. Digital technology has been proposed to enable parents’ decision making for self-care and treatment-seeking.

Aim: to evaluate the evidence for digital interventions in enabling parents’ decisions on self-care and treatment-seeking for acute illnesses in children.
Design and setting: Systematic review.

Method: MEDLINE and EMBASE searched from inception to January 2019 for studies assessing digital interventions for parents of children with acute illnesses.

Results: three studies involving 4838 participants were included. They assessed ‘Children’s On Call’ (US advice-only app), ‘Should I see a doctor?’ (Dutch self-triage app for any acute illness) and ‘SORT for Kids’ (US self-triage website for influenza-like illness). None of these involved parents during intervention development, and many parents did not find the first two apps easy to use. The sensitivity of self-triage interventions was 84% for ‘Should I see a doctor?’ compared to nurse triage, and 93% for ‘Sort for Kids’ compared to the need for emergency department intervention, but both had lower specificity (74% and 13% respectively). None demonstrated reduced use of urgent care services. Although 65% of ‘Should I see a doctor?’ users stated that they intended to follow the app’s advice, the proportion who heeded this advice wasn’t reported.

Conclusion: there is little evidence for the use of digital interventions to support parent/carers looking after children with acute illness. Future research should involve parents during intervention development, and adequately-powered trials are needed to assess impact on health services and the identification of seriously ill children.

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BJGP-2019-0432.R1_Proof_hi - Accepted Manuscript
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 7 August 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 27 February 2020
Published date: March 2020
Keywords: Acute disease, Child health, Digital intervention, Mhealth, Primary care

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 434152
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/434152
ISSN: 0960-1643
PURE UUID: 0a5e5dbe-ac9c-4cc9-984b-cf12034b59b8
ORCID for Merlin Willcox: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-5227-3444

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 13 Sep 2019 16:30
Last modified: 10 Jan 2022 03:09

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Contributors

Author: Emily Donovan
Author: Sanjay Patel
Author: Paul Little
Author: Alastair Hay
Author: Merlin Willcox ORCID iD

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