With the ApplyIT Study wrapping up March 2019, some preliminary findings have been collected. 39 participants between the ages of 14-18 with a chronic health condition (neurodevelopmental or other chronic), at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Ontario completed the baseline visit. Following baseline measures, participants were randomized into 2 groups: receive the app with monthly support or continue with usual care. All participants will complete a 3- and 6-month follow-up visit to repeat the baseline measures.
The primary feasibility outcome examined whether a 90% retention could be attained. Our team was successful in achieving this outcome with 36 out of 39 participants completing all 3 time points (92% retention). It was evident, however, that recruitment into the study would be the largest barrier to a successful RCT (only 39 of the expected 100 participants were recruited).
Our team learned many valuable lessons from this study, including but not limited to the following: Buy-in from youth around the importance of transition preparation/goal setting. Qualitative data from the intervention group indicated that many youth became aware of the areas of self-management that they need to focus on. Those who didn’t use the app commended the resource; yet they perceived their health concerns as “not serious enough” and themselves as “not sick enough”. While we do not have any data on the youth who completed time 1 data, it can be assumed that likely many youth who opted not to participate also did not feel they were sick enough to need an intervention. Surprisingly, many participants and their families felt that youth were too young to start practicing self-management for transition planning. The ApplyIT Study and other transition studies point to goal setting as a vital ingredient for making transition planning relevant, meaningful and tailored to an individual youth.
Physician buy-in to these of the MyTransition App: People are more likely to follow through with an intervention if it is recommended by their physician. This was found to be also true amongst youth participants in this study who expressed their wish for more clinicians to know about and use the app in the clinic. Clinicians offered useful insights on cultural practices that may facilitate the app use. Barriers to app use and recommendations from qualitative analysis has also been taken into consideration for future modifications and to inform next steps.