Digital technology and adolescent conduct problems

Adolescents spend an unprecedented amount of time using digital technology to access the Internet and engage with social media. There is concern that this continuous connectivity could increase their mental health symptoms, especially for at-risk adolescents. | Journal of Pediatric Nursing

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A new US study has reported that on days that at-risk adolescents used technology more, they experienced more conduct problems and higher attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms compared to days when they used digital technologies less.

However, the study also found that on days when adolescents spent more time using digital technologies they were less likely to report symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Key findings:

•Daily digital technology use by at-risk adolescents is associated with worse mental health symptoms.
•Higher levels of digital technology use were associated with increases in next-day conduct problems.
•Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms increased with increased digital technology use.
•When adolescents spent more time using digital technologies they reported fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Full reference: McBride, Deborah L. Daily Digital Technology Use Linked to Mental Health Symptoms for High-risk Adolescents. Journal of Pediatric Nursing: Nursing Care of Children and Families. Published online 7th June 2017

Parents’ phone addiction may lead to child behavioural problems

Study suggests that when parents report being distracted by digital technology, this causes interruptions in interactions with their children. | story via The Guardian

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A recent study investigated the impact of “technoference” – when people switch their attention away from others to check their phone or tablet.

The study, carried out in the US, involved more than 300 parents who reported on their use of digital technology, to see if they felt it affected interactions with their children and actual child behaviours. A range of technology devices were studied, including smartphones, computers, television and tablets.

It found half of parents reported that their use of technology disrupted interactions with their child three or more times a day. Behavioural problems in children were linked to these disruptions.

Key findings:

  • On average, mothers and fathers reported about two devices as interfering in their interactions with their child at least once or more on a typical day.
  • Parents reporting problematic use of digital technology (40% of mothers and 32% of fathers) was correlated with technoference with their child.
  • Perceived technoference in mother-child interactions was linked to child behavioural problems – both externalising and internalising behaviour – as rated by mothers and fathers.
  • However, perceived technoference in father-child interactions was not linked to behavioural issues.
  • Only 11% of parents reported that technoference did not occur and 48% reported three or more times on a typical day.

Read more via The Guardian

Full reference: McDaniel BT, Radesky JS. Technoference: Parent Distraction With Technology and Associations With Child Behavior Problems. Child Development. Published online May 10 2017

 

 

Ethics of digital technology for mental health

The potential of digital technology to make the lives of people with mental health difficulties better has never been greater | The Mental Elf

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The advent of the smartphone and mobile internet access has created the conditions for an ever-expanding range of opportunities for the use of technology to influence outcomes in health. However, ethical considerations remain for professionals in suggesting the use of such technologies.

Bauer et al.’s (2017) open access paper Ethical perspectives on recommending digital technology for patients with mental illness reviews some of the major ethical concerns presented to medical professionals by this explosion of technological possibilities and explores some of the ways in which new technologies challenge the boundaries between health, commerce and the private and public uses of data.

Read the full blog post here

Effect of online health information on GP consultations

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Research published in the British Journal of General Practice has explored how searching for online health information before visiting a doctor influences patients’ behaviour during the consultation.

The effect of Dr Google on doctor-patient encounters in primary care looks at the effect of searching online health information on the behaviour of the patients as well as how the GP handles this information.  It concludes that the use of the internet by patients is not seen as a threat by GPs and leads to a better mutual understanding of symptoms and diagnosis.

Full reference: Noor Van Riel et. al. The effect of Dr Google on doctor–patient encounters in primary care: a quantitative, observational, cross-sectional study 

 

Additional link: RCGP press release

Digital solutions for social care

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VODG (Voluntary Organisations Disability Group) has published Co-producing technology: harnessing digital solutions for social care. 

This paper outlines how health and social care providers can collaborate with service users when designing apps, websites and other digital technologies.  It recommends how providers can maximise the benefits of such new approaches, and addresses three focus areas: the locality perspective, the integration perspective and the practice perspective.

Download the full report:
Co-producing technology: harnessing digital solutions for social care.

Integrated care

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The European Commission’s Expert Group on Health Systems Performance Assessment has published BLOCKS: tools and methodologies to access integrated care in Europe.

Drawing on insights from experts from seventeen European countries, the report looks at the factors behind successful integrated care models including stakeholder engagement, patient empowerment and the use of information and communications technology.

Mental health patients to benefit from new digital services

Seven areas across England are set to trail-blaze digital services for mental health patients, which will include innovative apps to improve care and online access to ‘real-time’ patient records. | NHS England

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NHS England has announced funding for seven mental health trusts to enable them to pioneer digital services for mental health patients.  It is intended that all key professionals involved in a patient’s care have access to real-time records – from triage and initial assessment, through to admissions or referrals, as well as transfer between services and follow up care.

The trusts will also develop remote, mobile and assistive technologies to empower patients to manage their conditions and enable family and carers to provide the best possible support.

The trusts will have up to £70m to invest in digital services – consisting £35m with additional match funding from themselves of £35m – in order to become ‘Global Digital Exemplars for Mental Health’ helping the organisations become world-leading in the use of IT, providing knowledge and expertise to the wider NHS in order to reduce time and costs for others.

This is all part of the NHS’ plan to harness technology to improve services and become more efficient.