A1 Journal article – refereed
How Do Adolescents Use Electronic Diaries? A Mixed-Methods Study Among Adolescents With Depressive Symptoms




List of Authors: Metsaranta K, Kurki M, Valimaki M, Anttila M
Publisher: JMIR PUBLICATIONS, INC
Publication year: 2019
Journal: Journal of Medical Internet Research
Journal name in source: JOURNAL OF MEDICAL INTERNET RESEARCH
Journal acronym: J MED INTERNET RES
Volume number: 21
Number of pages: 10
ISSN: 1438-8871

Abstract
Background: Depression in adolescence is common. Less than half of the adolescents with depression receive mental health care; furthermore, treatment tends to be suspended, and its success rates are low. There is a need for these adolescents to have a safe place to share their thoughts. Studies have shown that writing may be a useful treatment method for people with mental health problems.Objective: This study aims to describe the use of an electronic diary (e-diary) among adolescents with depressive symptoms.Methods: This paper describes a substudy of a randomized controlled trial. We used a mixed-methods approach to understand the way in which e-diaries were used by participants in the intervention under the randomized controlled trial. Data were collected during 2008-2010 at 2 university hospitals in Finland. Study participants (N=89) were 15-17-year-old adolescents who had been referred to an adolescent outpatient psychiatric clinic due to depressive symptoms. Participants were instructed to use the e-diary at least once a week to describe their thoughts, feelings, and moods. The content of the e-diary data was analyzed using descriptive statistics and inductive content analysis.Results: Overall, 53% (47/89) of the adolescents used the e-diary. Most of them (39/47, 83%) logged into the program during the first week, and about one-third (19/47, 40%) logged into the e-diary weekly as suggested. The number of words used in the e-diary per each log ranged between 8 and 1442 words. The 3 topics most often written about in the e-diary were related to mental health problems (mental disorder), social interaction (relationship), and one's own development (identity).Conclusions: An e-diary may be a usable tool to reflect experiences and thoughts, especially among adolescents who have signs of depression. The results of this study can be used to develop user-centered electronic health applications that allow users to express their own thoughts and experiences in ways other than systematic mood monitoring.

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Last updated on 2019-26-08 at 15:05