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Computer Kiosks with Child Health Information Proven Effective

March 01, 2007

 New research at Seattle Children’s Hospital finds that computer kiosks with child-specific health information can effectively encourage parents to adopt new health prevention behaviors and to talk with their child’s doctor about health and safety concerns.

New research at Seattle Children’s Hospital finds that computer kiosks with child-specific health information can effectively encourage parents to adopt new health prevention behaviors and to talk with their child’s doctor about health and safety concerns.

The goal of the study, published today in Pediatrics, was to evaluate the use of touch screen computer kiosks containing only child health information in these settings and to learn more about the characteristics of the users of the kiosks.

While research has been done on the efficacy of health information kiosks in general, this is the first published study to focus exclusively on kiosks providing only child health information.

“Given the limited amount of time that parents and caregivers actually have with their child’s doctor, parents are seeking credible health and safety information on the Internet and through other sources.

The idea of providing child specific health information in community settings can encourage parents to try new or different behaviors with their child and help parents come to the interaction with their child’s doctor more prepared and informed.

Ultimately, we hope that high-quality, credible and easily accessible health prevention and promotion messages can have in impact on health care and health outcomes for children,” said Dr. Dimitri Christakis, Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center.

The kiosks were placed in urban, low income, community settings in Seattle, Washington, including a public library, Department of Motor Vehicles site and a McDonald’s restaurant. Kiosks were in place for a six month period, March -October 2005.

Users were asked to enter the age of their child and were given age-specific health and safety information. In an exit survey, users were asked to rate their experience and provide basic demographic data.

There were 14 topics or modules available through the kiosk. Ten focused on prevention and safety, including television/media exposure, gun safety, bicycle safety, car seat use, exposure to smoke, flu shots, sudden death syndrome (SIDS), house fires, Head Start preschools, and scald burn prevention.

Three modules were designed as screening tools for the following: developmental delay, tuberculosis, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The final module was a symptom assessment tool for children with asthma.

During the six month study, adults used the touch screen kiosk 1846 times. Almost half (47%) of the total kiosk sessions occurred at the McDonald’s location; followed by 35% at the public library, and 18% at the DMV location.

The study found that 78% who used the kiosk were “first-time users” and most (61%) explored only one health topic or module. First-time users of the kiosk were most interested in television/media use (16%), smoke exposure (14%), ADHD screening (12%), and asthma assessment (11%).

28% of users responded to questions on the exit survey. Of these, 48% had less than a high school education. And 26% had never used the Internet.

Approximately one-half found the kiosk easy to use (57%) and the information easy to understand (55%). Content was written at the eighth-grade level and included readable font sizes and pictures.

66% said they found at least some new information. More than half of users (55%) stated they were planning to try some of the new things they learned, such as limiting their child’s television viewing time, reducing exposure to second hand smoke, or putting their infant to sleep on his or her back.

Almost one-half, (49%) stated they intended to talk with their child’s doctor about what they had learned.

Dimitri Christakis, MD, MPH, is a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital in Seattle; associate professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Washington, and director of the Child Health Institute. Author of more than 100 original research articles, a textbook of pediatrics and The ELEPHANT IN THE LIVING ROOM: Make Television Work for Your Kids, he has appeared on CNN, NPR, Today, CBS News, ABC News, and NBC News.

Darcy A. Thompson, MD, MPH, is an associate professor at the Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland. Previously, she was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the University of Washington. She has done extensive research and published articles in the scientific and consumer media on the impacts of television viewing on children and sleep patterns.

Paula Lazano, MD, MPH, is in the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health Institute, at the University of Washington, and with the Center for Health Studies, Group Health Cooperative, Seattle, Washington.

About Seattle Children’s

Consistently ranked as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical referral center for the largest landmass of any children’s hospital in the country (Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho). For more than 100 years, Seattle Children’s has been delivering superior patient care while advancing new treatments through pediatric research. Seattle Children’s serves as the primary teaching, clinical and research site for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The hospital works in partnership with Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation. For more information, visit www.seattlechildrens.org or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

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