iPad app assists in medical and social care assessment of children

30 April 2013

An iPad app developed by Child & Family Training enables health and social care professionals working with children to survey, explore and quantify almost any experience or symptom.

The This Much! app is aimed at paediatric nurses, paediatricians, child therapists, school counsellors, child and clinical psychologists and psychotherapists.

The app generates both quantitative data and qualitative information, using a combination of graphics, text, symbols and images (including photographs). Any visual analogue scale (VAS) scale can be quickly and easily adapted to explore and quantify almost any symptom or type of experience.

The goal is to help children express things that are difficult for them; either because they were complicated, distressing, or they were just scared of communicating in a traditional interview. Many children have difficulty communicating if they are in pain, anxious, fearful or depressed, so the team sought to find ways that this could be made easier for them.

David Glasgow, a consultant psychologist and member of the development team, said: "This Much! is an app that provides an interactive Visual Analogue Scale. It is a new twist on a very well established assessment procedure which is traditionally administered in paper and pencil format. This can be confusing or a rather intimidating for many children. Using a tablet makes the whole procedure much more engaging for the child and informative for the professional. The child can choose how to represent the experience or symptom and indicate a rating and then that response that can be quantified and explored in more detail."

“The app is actually good fun to use, so be would especially useful in children’s medicine, as children engage with it and become much more communicative. It helps to solve what has always been a big problem in the clinical setting, and makes evidence based practice more enjoyable and effective from both the perspective of children and professionals."

Another member of the team, Professor Arnon Bentovim said, “This Much! allows children and adults with intellectual disabilities to generate and manipulate graphics within the app customised to his or her particular needs. It takes only a few taps to create a new scale, or adapt an existing one, and they can include figures representing people, any digital image or any text label. It could also facilitate future research on what makes a good scale to use with children, in almost any situation requiring valid and reliable data.”

“This Much! provides an effective tool when assessing children who struggle with verbal expression. It helps you to generate comparative ratings to illustrate psychological responses under various conditions or when a visual measure of progress might be useful for the child and family.”


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