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A Smartphone App for Parental Management of Adolescent Conduct Problems: Randomized Clinical Trial of iKinnect
Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology  (IF5.077),  Pub Date : 2022-05-31, DOI: 10.1080/15374416.2022.2070851
Cindy M. Schaeffer, Linda A. Dimeff, Kelly Koerner, Julie Chung, Angela Kelley-Brimer, Nadia Kako, Maria Ilac, Elena Tuerk, David Carroll, Blair Beadnell

ABSTRACT

Objective

This study evaluates iKinnect, a linked caregiver-teen mobile app system designed to address serious adolescent conduct problems through a focus on key targets of evidence-based treatments for juvenile offending, such as parent expectation setting, monitoring, consistency, and positive reinforcement. Additional gamification and autonomy-supporting features are designed to maximize youth engagement. Digital therapeutics such as mobile apps have great potential to expand access to effective interventions, particularly for youth who engage in serious conduct problems and substance abuse, since most never receive an evidence-based treatment and few apps exist for these concerns.

Methods

This randomized clinical trial used a short-term (12 week) longitudinal design with four time points. Recruited was a U.S. national sample of teens (n = 72, age 13–17, 59.7% male, 68.1% White) receiving services for a serious conduct problem and their primary caregiver. The efficacy of iKinnect, used by parent and teen dyads, was measured against an active control condition, Life360, an app that provided mutual GPS-based location tracking to dyads.

Results

Across 12 weeks of app use, youth who used iKinnect showed significantly greater reductions in alcohol use, marijuana use, school delinquency, status offenses, and general delinquency than did controls. Parents who used iKinnect Reported greater improvements in structure/rule clarity and discipline consistency relative to control parents. Teen and parent iKinnect app use and acceptability ratings were high.

Conclusions

Real-world use of iKinnect in future applications can, like other emerging digital health technologies, help to expand the reach of evidence-based interventions to children, youth, and families.

Registered at clinicaltrials.gov (NCT03065517).