Petrenko CLM, Kautz-Turnbull CC, Roth AR, Parr JE, Tapparello C, Demir U, Olson HC
Initial Feasibility of the “Families Moving Forward Connect” Mobile Health Intervention for Caregivers of Children With Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Mixed Method Evaluation Within a Systematic User-Centered Design Approach
JMIR Form Res 2021;5(12):e29687
doi: 10.2196/29687PMID: 34860661
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are prevalent neurodevelopmental conditions. Significant barriers prevent family access to FASD-informed care. To improve accessibility, a scalable mobile health intervention for caregivers of children with FASD is under development. The app, called Families Moving Forward (FMF) Connect, is derived from the FMF Program, a parenting intervention tailored for FASD. FMF Connect has 5 components: Learning Modules, Family Forum, Library, Notebook, and Dashboard.
This study assesses the feasibility of FMF Connect intervention prototypes. This includes examining app usage data and evaluating user experience to guide further refinements.
Two rounds of beta-testing were conducted as part of a systematic approach to the development and evaluation of FMF Connect: (1) an iOS prototype was tested with 20 caregivers of children (aged 3-17 years) with FASD and 17 providers for the first round (April-May 2019) and (2) iOS and Android prototypes were tested with 25 caregivers and 1 provider for the second round (November-December 2019). After each 6-week trial, focus groups or individual interviews were completed. Usage analytics and thematic analysis were used to address feasibility objectives.
Across beta-test trials, 84% (38/45) of caregivers and 94% (17/18) of providers installed the FMF Connect app. Technological issues were tracked in real time with updates to address problems and expand app functionalities. On use days, caregivers averaged 20 minutes using the app; most of the time was spent watching videos in Learning Modules. Caregiver engagement with the Learning Modules varied across 5 usage pattern tiers. Overall, 67% (30/45) of caregivers posted at least once in the Family Forum. Interviews were completed by 26 caregivers and 16 providers. App evaluations generally did not differ according to usage pattern tier or demographic characteristics.
Globally, app users were very positive, with 2.5 times more positive- than negative-coded segments across participants. Positive evaluations emphasized the benefits of accessible information and practical utility of the app. Informational and video content were described as especially valuable to caregivers. A number of affective and social benefits of the app were identified, aligning well with the caregivers’ stated motivators for app use. Negative evaluations of user experience generally emphasized technical and navigational aspects. Refinements were made on the basis of feedback during the first beta test, which were positively received during the second round. Participants offered many valuable recommendations for continuing app refinement, which is useful in improving user experience.
The results demonstrate that the FMF Connect intervention is acceptable and feasible for caregivers raising children with FASD. They will guide subsequent app refinement before large-scale randomized testing. This study used a systematic, user-centered design approach for app development and evaluation. The approach used here may illustrate a model that can broadly inform the development of mobile health and digital parenting interventions.
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