An mHealth App to Promote Adherence to Immunosuppressant Medication and Track Symptoms in Children After Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant: Protocol for a Mixed Methods Usability Study

Academic Article


  • Background: In the United States, poor adherence accounts for up to 70% of all medication-related hospital admissions, resulting in $100 billion in health care costs annually. In pediatrics, adherence is largely dependent on caregivers. In a high-risk hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) population, caregivers are isolated with their child due to infection risk and must manage challenging treatment regimens at home, often with limited time and support. Complex behavioral interventions, typically employed to address adherence, are difficult to deliver and manage in the context of these daily tasks. The most successful adherence interventions, and thus improved clinical outcomes, have included mobile health (mHealth) reminder approaches and a direct measure of adherence. Objective: This is a 3-phase project, with this protocol describing phase 2, to determine the usability and feasibility of an mHealth app (BMT4me) designed to promote adherence to immunosuppressant medication and to track symptoms among children who received HSCT. Methods: This study uses an iterative convergent mixed methods design to develop and assess the usability and feasibility of an adherence digital health intervention. We will recruit 15 caregivers of pediatric patients receiving HSCT to complete user testing. Qualitative and quantitative data will be integrated to enhance and expand upon study findings. Results: Enrollment began in September 2021 and is ongoing. A total of 7 caregivers have enrolled. We anticipate completion by fall 2022. We anticipate high usability scores and a better understanding of unique features within the app that are needed for HSCT families post transplant. To date, usability scores among enrolled participants are greater than 70%. Feedback from qualitative interviews is being used to further adapt the app by adding specific weekly logs, call provider options, and voice to text. Conclusions: This protocol describes a mixed methods usability and feasibility study to develop and implement a smartphone app for caregivers of children receiving HSCT. The app was designed to improve immunosuppressant adherence and to track symptoms in the acute phase post discharge. Study findings will inform further refinement of the app and the feasibility of a pilot randomized controlled trial examining efficacy on clinical outcomes.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Skeens M; Sezgin E; Stevens J; Landier W; Pai A; Gerhardt C
  • Volume

  • 11
  • Issue

  • 7