Efficacy of digital health interventions in youth with chronic medical conditions: A meta-analysis

Efficacy of digital health interventions in youth with chronic medical conditions: A meta-analysis

Domhardt, M. Schroder, A. Geirhos, A. Steubl, L. Baumeister, H.
Internet Interventions
24 (no pagination)
Background: Digital health interventions might extend service provisions for youth with chronic medical conditions (CC) and comorbid mental health symptoms. We aimed to comprehensively evaluate the efficacy of Internet- and mobile-based interventions (IMIs) for different psychological and disease-related outcomes in children and adolescents with CC. Method(s): Studies were identified by systematic searches in CENTRAL, Embase, MEDLINE/PubMed and PsycINFO, complemented by searches in reference lists of eligible studies and other reviews. We included studies, when they were randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing the efficacy of an IMI to control conditions in improving psychological and disease-related outcomes in youth (mean age <= 18 years) with CC. Study selection, data extraction and risk of bias assessment were conducted independently by two reviewers. Meta-analyses were performed within a random-effects model, and Hedges' g (with 95% confidence intervals) was calculated as effect size measure. Primary outcomes were comorbid mental health symptoms (i.e., depression, anxiety and stress), as well as quality of life and self-efficacy. Result(s): A total of 19 randomized controlled trials (2410 patients) were included in this meta-analysis. IMIs were associated with improvements in self-efficacy (g = 0.38; 95% CI, 0.15 to 0.61; I<sup>2</sup> = 0) and combined disease-related outcomes (g = -0.13; 95% CI, -0.25 to -0.01; I<sup>2</sup> = 21). Meta-analyses on other outcomes were non-significant, and some pre-planned analyses were not feasible because of a shortage of studies. Conclusion(s): The available evidence on IMIs for improving mental and health-related outcomes in youth with CC is limited. Our findings point to a rather small benefit and limited efficacy. Future research is needed, to comprehensively assess the potential of IMIs to extend collaborative care, and to identify factors contributing to improved user-centered interventions with better treatment outcomes. Copyright © 2021 The Authors

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Type of intervention

Treatment and Child Welfare Interventions


Biological Risk Factors, Diseases and Symptoms

Somatic Disease


The organization of interventions

E-health interventions

Age group

Preschool Aged Children (3-5 years)

School Aged Children (6-12 years)

Adolescents (13-18 years)

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