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Published on 29.12.16 in Vol 2, No 1 (2016): December

This paper is in the following e-collection/theme issue:


    A Patient-Centered Approach to Developing a Mobile-Based Self-Management Intervention, Featuring a Virtual Coach, for Adolescents With Irritable Bowel Syndrome

    1BodiMojo, Inc, Boston, MA, United States

    2David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, United States

    3Pediatric Pain Program, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, United States

    Corresponding Author:

    Elizabeth Donovan, PhD

    BodiMojo, Inc

    30 Newbury Street, 3rd Floor

    Boston, MA, 02116

    United States

    Phone: 1 617 333 0441

    Fax:1 617 333 0441



    Background: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a complex, chronic, functional disorder that has no cure and is characterized by abdominal pain/discomfort and altered bowel habits; other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, and bloating; and it can also result in social isolation and shame. While in-person self-management skills training for IBS has been shown to be effective in adults and older adolescents, this training is inaccessible for most. Mobile technology may be a feasible way to deliver an intervention to adolescents designed to promote self-management and positive coping skills.

    Objective: To conduct in-depth interviews with key stakeholders to inform the development of a mobile-based intervention, featuring an empathetic virtual coach, designed to promote self-management skills and positive coping skills in adolescents with IBS.

    Methods: A total of 12 adolescents with IBS and 12 parents recruited from the UCLA Pediatric Pain Program (PPP) and Whole Child LA, and 12 multi-disciplinary health care providers, including gastroenterologists, nutritionists, and mental health providers, participated in 60-minute in-depth interviews. Interview guides were designed to elicit information about functioning challenges and coping strategies and to gather feedback about preliminary features for a mobile-based intervention and preferences for new features. Participants were shown images of three proposed main features and a video animation of a virtual coach. Thematic analysis informed coding and analysis of interview data.

    Results: Results of the in-depth interviews revealed 6 main themes around adolescents’ functioning, coping, and preferences for a mobile-based intervention. Data from the interviews were incorporated into a demonstration version of the mobile app using emotional modeling algorithms for a virtual coach.

    Conclusions: A patient-centered approach is a useful way to inform development of a mobile-based intervention for adolescents struggling to manage IBS. A next phase of the research includes a pilot study with 24 adolescents using the application and acceptance testing with caregivers and providers.

    iproc 2016;2(1):e24



    This poster was presented at the Connected Health Symposium 2016, October 20-21, Boston, MA, United States. The poster is displayed as an image in Figure 1 and as a PDF in Multimedia Appendix 1.

    Figure 1. Poster.
    View this figure

    Multimedia Appendix 1


    PDF File (Adobe PDF File), 2MB

    Edited by T Hale; submitted 04.06.16; peer-reviewed by CHS Scientific Program Committee; accepted 04.08.16; published 29.12.16

    ©Elizabeth Donovan, Tara Cousineau, Jennie CI Tsao, Lonnie K Zeltzer, Subhadra Evans. Originally published in Iproceedings (, 29.12.2016.

    This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in Iproceedings, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.