Usability of eHealth and Mobile Health Interventions by Young People Living With Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis: Systematic Review

Background: Considering the changing landscape of internet use and rising ownership of digital technology by young people, new methods could be considered to improve the current model of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) management.

Objective: This systematic review aims to evaluate the usability of eHealth and mobile health (mHealth) interventions currently available for young people living with JIA.

Methods: The PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines were used to oversee this review. We systematically searched 15 databases for 252 potential studies; 2 authors independently screened all quantitative studies reporting the use of eHealth and mHealth interventions for young people (aged 1-18 years) diagnosed with JIA. Studies were excluded if they did not report outcome measures or were reviews, commentaries, or qualitative studies. Study methodological quality was scored using the Down and Black (modified) checklist. A narrative descriptive methodology was used to quantify the data because of heterogeneity across the studies.

Results: A total of 11 studies were included in this review, reporting 7 eHealth and mHealth interventions for young people (aged 4-18 years) living with JIA, targeting health issues such as pain, health-related quality of life, physical activity, and chronic disease self-management. The usability of the interventions was facilitated through training and ongoing support. The engagement was promoted by a combination of persuasive influences, and barriers preventing adherence were removed through personal reminders and flexible program schedules to cater to JIA and non-JIA illnesses or other commonly seen activities in childhood. The feedback obtained was that most young people and their parents liked the interventions.

Conclusions: The results of this review need to be considered cautiously because of the lack of rigorous testing and heterogeneity, which limits the detailed descriptions of data synthesis. Further research is needed to consider gender differences, associated costs, and the effectiveness of the interventions on health outcomes to better support young people living with JIA.

Keywords: adolescence; child; eHealth; juvenile idiopathic arthritis; mHealth; mobile phone; pain; physical activity; quality of life; self-management; systematic review.