Helping teens change their risk behaviours with Check Yourself

A new evidence based tool co-created with Seattle Children’s Research Institute, powered by Tickit.

Substance abuse, unprotected sexual activity and texting while driving are some of the main behaviours which lead to teenage death in the US, and are often preventable. While the majority of teens in the US have preventative medical appointments, screening their behaviour as well as intervention and follow up remains inconsistent. To tackle this, Seattle Children’s Research Institute partnered chose to use Tickit  to power Check Yourself, a mobile screening tool for youth risk behaviours. Check Yourself asks questions on risk behaviours in a Q&A style, and delivers direct feedback based on answers to motivate changes in behaviour. Seattle Children’s Hospital interviewed teens between 12-17 of age who used Check Yourself to see whether it helped motivate health and risk behaviour change. They found that youth were very receptive to electronic screening and enjoyed personalized health tips.

What teens thought about Check Yourself

Increased interest in health information

Overall, the teens interviewed enjoyed  filling out the surveys electronically over pen and paper. The colourful images and interactive content increased their interest of health information. They all appreciated the information was presented in a nonjudgmental manner and it helped them feel motivated for change.

When I did see that cause and effect thing it kind of made me think, “Well, that effect would be nice.”

[Female, 17]

Better learning experience

Teens said they were able to learn about the cause and effect of their health behaviours through Check Yourself. They appreciated the educational tips for improvement and how their behaviour compared to to peer norms as well as national guidelines. They also found value in practical tips to change behaviour; even if they weren’t engaging in the risk behaviours, they thought it might be useful in future.

When I saw the graph of the physical activity, I was way below, and I was just thinking, “Wow, I really should do something about that.”

[Male, 14]

Privacy was invaluable

They felt Check Yourself  increased their safety to self-disclose because the user design of one question per screen concealed previous answers, especially when parents or family members were attending the appointment with them.

I didn’t want anyone else to see [my responses] because my sister was sitting here, and my mom was sitting here...but this way was kind of like, you can answer the question and quickly move on and no one will see your answer if you do it fast enough.

[Female, 16]

Easier and less awkward to disclose health problems

Teen respondents felt that Check Yourself was helpful because it reduced their doctor’s need to ask about sensitive topics face to face, and on the other hand it was easier to talk about these issues after completing the tool.

I like the idea of having [the tool] because a lot of people, like I know a lot of times I would go to the doctor ready to say something and then get scared and not say it. This way, it’s a little bit impersonal, but at least I’m getting it down and so the doctor, I wouldn’t have to make eye contact with him, but he will know because I put it in there.

[Female, 16]

Better Experience with Doctor

Teens felt that Check Yourself enhanced the interactions with doctors by priming them to identify their questions and concerns during their visit.

The study shows that Check Yourself  enhanced the health care appointment helping teens  identify questions and concerns before meeting with their doctor. As well, when given additional support through preventative intervention, personalized advice with evidence based reasons to change, teens felt activated and empowered to manage and improve their health.

The research was published in July 2017 in Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Read full article here.

And the website is here