Digital clinical communication for families and caregivers of children or young people with short-or long-Term conditions: Rapid review

Xavier Armoiry, Jackie Sturt, Emma Elizabeth Phelps, Clare Louise Walker, Rachel Court, Frances Taggart*, Paul Sutcliffe, Frances Griffiths, Helen Atherton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The communication relationship between parents of children or young people with health conditions and health professionals is an important part of treatment, but it is unclear how far the use of digital clinical communication tools may affect this relationship. Objective: The objective of our study was to describe, assess the feasibility of, and explore the impact of digital clinical communication between families or caregivers and health professionals. Methods: We searched the literature using 5 electronic databases. We considered all types of study design published in the English language from January 2009 to August 2015. The population of interest included families and caregivers of children and young people aged less than 26 years with any type of health condition. The intervention was any technology permitting 2-way communication. Results: We included 31 articles. The main designs were randomized controlled trials (RCTs; n=10), cross-sectional studies (n=9), pre-and postintervention uncontrolled (pre/post) studies (n=7), and qualitative interview studies (n=2); 6 had mixed-methods designs. In the majority of cases, we considered the quality rating to be fair. Many different types of health condition were represented. A breadth of digital communication tools were included: videoconferencing or videoconsultation (n=14), and Web messaging or emails (n=12). Health care professionals were mainly therapists or cognitive behavioral therapists (n=10), physicians (n=8), and nurses (n=6). Studies were very heterogeneous in terms of outcomes. Interventions were mainly evaluated using satisfaction or acceptance, or outcomes relating to feasibility. Clinical outcomes were rarely used. The RCTs showed that digital clinical communication had no impact in comparison with standard care. Uncontrolled pre/post studies showed good rates of satisfaction or acceptance. Some economic studies suggested that digital clinical communication may save costs. Conclusions: This rapid review showed an emerging body of literature on the use of digital clinical communication to improve families' and caregivers' involvement in the health management of children or young people. Further research with appropriate study designs and longer-Term outcome measures should be encouraged.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere5
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This rapid review was part of the LYNC study funded by the National Institute of Health Research, UK (call: 12/209 HS&DR Researcher Led).

Funding Information:
CLW, FG, and HA are funded for other research by the National Institute of Health Research, UK.


  • Caregivers
  • Child Health
  • Children
  • Digital Clinical Communication
  • Family
  • Professional-Family Relations
  • Young Adult


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