Kids who need transplants are all different, according to Dr. Kristine McKenna, Pediatric Psychologist at the Pediatric Transplant Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, who presented the results of her team’s research Tuesday at the American Transplant Congress Meeting at Hynes Convention Center in Boston. Some have had a lifetime of experience in the hospital, while others suddenly are taken by previously asymptomatic heart or kidney problems.
Many people do not realize that once the transplant is over, even if it goes relatively smoothly, the child will still face a lifetime of medical maintenance, Dr. McKenna pointed out. This generally involves a daily routine of a regimen of medications, as well as health monitoring for the detection of early symptoms that may indicate problems. Dr. McKenna’s team is developing an evidence-based smartphone application to assist these young patients with managing their conditions while adding in a healthy dose of fun.
Dr. McKenna’s team held focus groups with pediatric transplant patients to discern what they would want in a smartphone application. “We thought everyone would like avatars, such as a little kidney with a clipboard” as a representation of themselves, Dr. McKenna explained. But their research showed that only younger kids around the age of three preferred avatars, while teenagers did not feel it was appropriate for them.
Another result from the focus groups was that although both younger and older kids wanted prompts on their smartphone to remind them to take medication, the type of prompts preferred also differed by age. Younger children were comfortable with direct messages about medication in the prompt, while teenagers felt more private, and preferred a more generic prompt message that did not necessarily refer to medication.
Dr. McKenna’s team has completed their focus group work, and is currently building the app, which is expected to be completed by the end of summer.
Reference: Abstract #1712, Poster Board #-Session: P274-IV. Building an Adherence Intervention from the Pediatric Renal Transplant Patient’s Perspective: Key Themes and Components. K. D. McKenna, et al. 2012 American Journal of Transplantation, Suppl. 3, Vol. 12.
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