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Home support of obese children and adolescents by means of health information technology system: a pilot study for a psychosomatic therapy concept

D. Büchter; Tobias Kowatsch; B. Brogle; A. Dintheer-ter-Velde; D. Wiegand; I. Pletikosa; Wolfgang Maass; D. L`Allemand; J. Laimbacher


In Switzerland, 50% of obese children and adolescents show signs of psychological disorders. So far, existing interventions prove limited effectiveness and sustainability. IT-enhanced interventions have the potential to make the multi professional therapies more effective and less expensive. They aim not only modifying the patient`s behavior but also to positively influence their family system. Methods:In cooperation with therapists, patients, their parents and communication scientists, a mobile health information System (HIS) was developed, consisting of a tablet pc and an activity meter with cooking and shopping support, relaxation tools, and the ability to measure emotional parameters. With the help of a goal-setting service, the HIS supports physical activity, relaxation exercises, emotional self-reflections and monitoring of eating speed in everyday situations. Excessive HIS use is prevented by measuring the screen time consumed.The HIS was developed in several iterations and evaluated on 10 patients and their parent by the means of validated tests.Results of this pilot study show the usefulness of this HIS (Score 4 ± 0.8). It allows the patient verify and change his behavior at any time, while allowing the family system to find specific solutions and to promote cooperation within itself. The therapist is able to learn more about emotional burdens which may lead to problematical eating habits, visualize them in conversation and work them out with the patient. Conclusion: Often impaired self perception of obese patients can be objectified with HIS, but to examine the long-term effectiveness of HIS, a randomized controlled trial has been initiated.

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