Monday, June 16, 2008

eTouch helps young people discuss touchy subjects

A new wireless, touch screen program has been piloted at National Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Researchers say that when young people answer questions using the device, risk of injury, depression and drug and alcohol use were more often identified by teens, thus opening the door for practitioners to discuss sensitive topics.

The system was more successful at identifying risky behaviors than were time-strapped doctors. Although neither report that I read (Columbus Dispatch or AMNews) talked about using the system for identify STD/HIV or sexual health risk taking specifically, it appears perfectly suited.

As long as privacy for young people can be assured as they are using the tool, and that doctors have alone time with their teen patients, the tool could definitely help open some doors for discussion. Family and peer support around sexual health are crucial to young people's decision making abilities, but there are growing technology trends (texting!) that encourage young people to take more control and get what they need in intimidating clinical settings.

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