As patients with sickle cell disease age, they face comorbidities of pain and multiple organ damage. Preventive and comprehensive care for these patients is often disparate due to a lack of providers who are knowledgeable about the disease, mistrust and stigmatization of those with the disease, and other barriers to care. As a result, adults with sickle cell disease often end up self-managing their condition, only seeking care as a last resort.
Mobile health (mHealth) interventions offer a potential method for supporting the self-management needs of patients with sickle cell disease, as they are low-cost, scalable, and offer great flexibility in design.
To rate how effective a text message-based intervention could be in supporting the self-management of sickle cell disease, researchers developed a novel, high-fidelity prototype of a fully automated mHealth coaching app/chatbot called TREVOR. The researchers used TREVOR to deliver text-based messages and media objects, such as videos and podcasts, in an empathic way to the study’s 33 participants.
TREVOR’s three objectives were to educate patients with evidence-based content on sickle cell disease self-management, educate patients on the self-care practices that other patients have ranked as effective in reducing the incidence of vaso-occlusive pain crises, and provide patients with peer support.
Ultimately, 94% of participants rated TREVOR as fun and easy to use, 88% said it supported patient empowerment, and 82% felt it improved their knowledge about self-management of their condition. This study suggests that chatbots could promote recommended health behaviors and self-care practices for patients with sickle cell disease .
Source: Issom, D. Z., Hardy-Dessources, M. D., Romana, M., Hartvigsen, G., & Lovis, C. (2021). Toward a conversational agent to support the self-management of adults and young adults with sickle cell disease: usability and usefulness study. Frontiers in Digital Health, 3. https://doi.org/10.3389/fdgth.2021.600333