Theoretically-based emotion regulation strategies using a mobile app and wearable sensor among homeless adolescent mothers: Acceptability and feasibility study

Noelle R. Leonard, Bethany Casarjian, Richard R. Fletcher, Cathleen Prata, Dawa Sherpa, Anna Kelemen, Sonali Rajan, Rasheeda Salaam, Charles M. Cleland, Marya Gwadz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Many adolescent mothers are parenting young children under highly stressful conditions as they are managing first-time parenthood, poverty, lack of housing, school and work, and challenging peer and familial relationships. Mobile health (mHealth) technology has the potential to intervene at various points in the emotion regulation process of adolescent mothers to provide them support for more adaptive emotional and behavioral regulation in the course of their daily life. Objective: The goal of this study was to examine the acceptability, feasibility, use patterns, and mechanisms by which a mobile technology used as an adjunct to in-person, provider-delivered sessions fostered adolescent mothers' adaptive emotion regulation strategies under real-life conditions. Methods: Participants (N=49) were enrolled in the intervention condition of a larger pilot study of homeless adolescent mothers living in group-based shelters. The mHealth technology, Calm Mom, consisted of a mobile app and a wrist-worn sensorband for the ambulatory measurement and alerting of increased electrodermal activity (EDA), a physiological measurement of stress. We examined logs of mobile app activity and conducted semistructured qualitative interviews with a subsample (N=10) of participants. Qualitative data analysis was guided by the theoretical frames of the intervention and a technology acceptance model and included an analysis of emerging themes and concepts. Results: Overall, participants indicated that one or more of the elements of Calm Mom supported their ability to effectively regulate their emotions in the course of their daily life in ways that were consonant with the intervention's theoretical model. For many adolescent mothers, the app became an integral tool for managing stress. Due to technical challenges, fewer participants received sensorband alerts; however, those who received alerts reported high levels of acceptability as the technology helped them to identify their emotions and supported them in engaging in more adaptive behaviors during real-life stressful situations with their children, peers, and family members. Conclusions: Calm Mom is a promising technology for providing theoretically driven behavioral intervention strategies during real-life stressful moments among a highly vulnerable population. Future research efforts will involve addressing technology challenges and refining tailoring algorithms for implementation in larger-scale studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1
JournalJMIR Pediatrics and Parenting
Volume1
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2018

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Electrodermal response
  • Emotion
  • Mothers
  • Parenting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Biomedical Engineering

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