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Systematic Review ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychiatry | doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00806

Use of Technology to Promote Child Behavioral Health in the Context of Pediatric Care: A Scoping Review and Applications to Low- and Middle-Income Countries

 Keng-yen Huang1*, Douglas Lee2, Janet Nakigudde3, Sabrina Cheng1, Kathleen Glory1, Devin Mann1, Antoinette Schoenthaler1, Sara Chokshi1, Elizabeth Kasirye4,  Christine Tusiime5 and Alan Mendelsohn1
  • 1School of Medicine, New York University, United States
  • 2College of Osteopathic Medicine, New York Institute of Technology, United States
  • 3College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, Uganda
  • 4Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Sports, Uganda
  • 5Butabika Hospital, Uganda

Background: The burden of mental, neurological, and substance (MNS) disorders is greater in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs). The rapid growth of digital health (i.e., eHealth) approaches can provide new solutions for transforming pediatric mental health services, and have the potential to address multiple resources and system barriers. However, little work has been done in applying eHealth to promote young children’s mental health in LMICs. It is also not clear how eHealth has been and might be applied for translating existing evidence-based practices/strategies (EBPs) to broader child mental health interventions and service access.

Methods: A scoping review was conducted to summarize current eHealth applications and evidence in child mental health. The review focuses on 1) providing an overview of existing eHealth applications, research methods, and effective evidence in child mental health promotion (focused on children of 0-12 years of age) in diverse service contexts; and 2) drawing lessons learned from the existing research about the eHealth design strategies and usability evidence to inform future eHealth design in LMICs.

Results: 32 articles fitting our inclusion criteria were reviewed. The child mental health eHealth studies were grouped into three areas: i) eHealth interventions targeting families (for parents and child); ii) eHealth for improving school mental health services (e.g., to promote school staff’s knowledge and management skills); and iii) eHealth for improving behavioral health care in the pediatric care system (e.g., to promote use of integrated patient-portal and electronic decision support systems that improve child behavioral health care). Most eHealth studies have reported positive impacts. Although most pediatric eHealth studies were conducted in high-income countries, many eHealth design strategies can be adapted and modified to fit LMIC contexts. Most user-engagement strategies identified from high-income countries are also highly relevant for populations in LMICs.

Conclusions: This review synthesizes patterns of eHealth use across a spectrum of individual/family and system level of eHealth interventions that can be applied to promote child mental health and strengthen mental health service systems. This review also summarizes critical lessons to guide future eHealth design in LMICs. However, more research in testing combinations of eHealth strategies in LMICs is needed.

Keywords: Technology, eHealth, mHealth, Digital Health, pediatric, Parenting, child mental health, behavioral health, Mental health service, Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC), multi-level, eHealth Framework

Received: 28 May 2019; Accepted: 11 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Huang, Lee, Nakigudde, Cheng, Glory, Mann, Schoenthaler, Chokshi, Kasirye, Tusiime and Mendelsohn. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Keng-yen Huang, School of Medicine, New York University, New York City, United States,