Conference Updates

SPP and ISRII: A perfect match — Dissemination, learning and networking at the 2013 ISRII meeting

With SPP making strides to lead the way in eHealth in pediatric care, now is the right time for strong ties to ISRII.

By Christopher Cushing and Lee M. Ritterband, PhD

The Society of Pediatric Psychology (SPP) was well represented at the International Society for Research on Internet Interventions (ISRII) meeting this past May, in Chicago. The conference brings together the best in behavioral and computer science, bioinformatics and web design. From the SPP perspective, the theme was rapid and dynamic intervention technologies. Russell Glasgow gave a sobering talk highlighting the mismatch between the pace of behavioral science and innovation in digital technology. He noted that for an intervention trial funded in 2006 and completed in 2012, the grant application would have been submitted and approved before the invention of the Wii, iPhone, Android, iPad and Siri putting scientific discovery markedly behind available technologies. Glasgow concluded that it is critical to develop intervention designs and funding policies that are responsive to changes in the technology marketplace. SPP members interested in innovative technologies will benefit from viewing the keynote in its entirety.

Keeping with the theme of rapid and dynamic response, SPP members presented breaking research findings in a symposium coordinated by SPP Past President Tonya Palermo and ISRII President Lee Ritterband. The symposium highlighted that pediatric psychology interventions can be formatted to be dynamic and responsive to the behaviors of individual participants. Bernard Fuemmeler presented on the novel Mila Celestial Blooms app for promoting healthy diet and physical activity in acute lymphoblastic leukemia survivors. Dr. Fuemmeler's app draws from extensive gamificaiton of behavioral medicine concepts and creates an immersive world with a rich backstory to engage participants (it looks so good some of us just want to play the game). Sylvie Naar-King, Karen MacDonell and Nikki Cockern all presented on the innovative Motivational Enhancement System for Adherence (MESA). MESA delivers content that is both tailored to participants and consistent with the motivational interviewing communication style. The level of automation is truly impressive and participants really get the experience of having an actual conversation with an avatar that is, in fact, a computer program. Finally, Chad Jensen, PhD, presented data on the preliminary effectiveness of using commercially available mHealth technologies to support and extend evidence-based treatments for pediatric obesity. Jensen's program is innovative in its use of health coaches to text message with study participants in addition to the use of the Daily Burn TM application to promote weight management. Each of these presenters have clearly responded to President Mike Rapoff's call to embrace and leverage technology for the improved health of our participants and patients, and ISRII was the perfect place to showcase SPP's innovation to the international community.

ISRII was born out of the need for people who are passionate innovators to come together and discuss meeting behavioral health needs with technology. With SPP making strides to lead the way in eHealth in pediatric care, now is the right time for strong ties to ISRII. Researchers looking to accelerate their technology innovations are will find like-minded people with the skills and desire to meet the needs of our patients in ISRII. We hope you will take a close look at the society and consider attending the conference in the future. We think you will be glad you did.