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Designing a mobile health app for children with Inflammatory Bowel Disease


Children diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) face a lifetime of illness which can have a significant impact on their health and well-being. Disease management can involve complex medication, nutrition and appointment treatment plans that require children to have a very high degree of adherence. Due to the chronic nature of IBD, children will eventually transition to the adult gastroenterology team where there is a high expectation of self-management, knowledge and autonomy.

The Study

Our research is focused on designing, developing and testing a mobile health app which will help children with IBD start the process of self-management of their treatment schedule. We will be recruiting children with IBD that live in the South Island of New Zealand.
The children will be utilising the app for digital medication and appointment reminders and to track treatment adherence. They will also keep track of their symptoms and learn when they need to seek medical help. The app will help teach them about their disease and treatments. We are also aiming to make the app engaging and fun so that the children enjoy using it and utilise the app to its full extent.

We will perform a clinical trial to assess how effective the app is at achieving these goals, with the proposed benefits being:

Participant Benefits:

  • Improved health related quality of life
  • Improved treatment adherence
  • Increased knowledge of disease and treatment
  • Improved overall self-management
  • Community benefits
  • Reduced health care service use
  • Improved school attendance

Our overall goal is to show that our mHealth app is an effective tool that children can use alongside their clinical treatment. Our contribution to scientific knowledge will be that children with IBD can learn self-management of their disease using mHealth technology.

Further Information

Angharad Hurley
PhD Candidate
University of Otago (Christchurch) Department of Paediatrics
L3, Terrace House
4 Oxford Terrace
Christchurch, 8011

PhD Supervisors

Professor Andrew Day
University of Otago (Christchurch) Department of Paediatrics
L3, Terrace House
4 Oxford Terrace
Christchurch, 8011

Tel 64 3 372 6718

Professor Richard Gearry
Department of Medicine, University of Otago, Christchurch
and Consultant Gastroenterologist, Canterbury Health District Health Board


Canterbury Medical Research Foundation
Christchurch Hospital Gastroenterology Research Fund