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Children can be involved in their own care with app

The app SISOM – an animated communication tool with the aim of facilitating children's involvement in healthcare – has now reached the next step in its development. With funding from the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation, the tool will now be implemented in hospitals in Stockholm, Skåne and Halland.

– Children in healthcare are particularly vulnerable as they have a limited verbal ability to communicate what is important to them and staff normally speak more to parents than the children themselves. SISOM gives the children a voice, so that they can influence their own care to a much higher degree, says Petra Svedberg, Associate Professor in Nursing and leader of the research group behind the project.

Throughout 2014 and 2015, the research group at Halmstad University, in collaboration with researchers from Oslo University, developed and validated SISOM to meet the needs of today's children and their demands for adaptation to mobile technology. Members of the project group at Halmstad University, apart from Petra Svedberg, are Jens Nygren, Associate Professor in Medical Science, Susann Arvidsson, Ph.D in Nursing, Ingrid Larsson, Ph.D in Health and Health Science, Ing-Marie Carlsson, Ph.D in Health Science, and Britt-Mari Gilljam, doctoral student in Health and Lifestyle with a focus on Nursing. The group has now received 800,000 SEK from the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation to implement SISOM at Karolinska universitetssjukhuset, Lunds universitetssjukhus and Hallands sjukhus.

Children communicate experiences in virtual world

In the app, the child creates a character in a virtual world. This world consists of five islands that represent the child's health and different situations relating to the illness. The child is put in front of concrete situations and fills in its experiences. It can be anything from testing to how the child perceives its daily life when it comes to for instance friends, school or sleep. The experiences of the children are then used as a basis for the dialogue between staff, the children and their parents.

In the app, the child creates a character in a virtual world that consists of five different islands representing different illness related situations.

Changed perspective on children's participation

New mobile technology can change how healthcare staff delivers care and can be a powerful tool in changing patterns of communication between children and caregivers. The project group will look into whether the implementation of SISOM affects children's experiences of involvement in the care and if decisions to a larger extent will be made based on the children's experiences.

There is limited research that focuses on implementing new working methods and innovations in healthcare, which is why the research group will also study the implementation process and its keys to success, weaknesses and strengths.

– Through questionnaires and interviews with staff, managers, children and parents, we will investigate how and when SISOM is used and to what extent, as well as what the perceived effects of using it are, says Petra Svedberg.

– According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is not enough for children to just be heard, they also have a right to take part in and influence issues that concern them. The hope is that the implementation of new working methods, where SISOM is used as a basis for dialogue, will lead to changed perspectives in staff and a changed attitude to children's involvement in healthcare. But that remains to be studied.

The project group also has a continued established international collaboration with researchers from Norway, Canada and Great Britain concerning validation and implementation of SISOM.



SISOM is an app for children between the ages 6 and 12 with the purpose of facilitating children's involvement in their own care.

Updated 2018-01-16