Post-surgical telehealth support for children and family care-givers

J Telemed Telecare. 2007;13(1):15-9. doi: 10.1258/135763307779701149.


Early discharge of children following surgery shifts the burden of care from professionals in hospital to family care-givers at home. We evaluated the relative effectiveness of telephone and videophone follow-up for children and families after a child's scoliosis surgery. Fourty-three patients and their families were enrolled in the study with 21 dyads receiving videophone and 22 dyads telephone support. At discharge, those in the intervention arm were provided with a videophone operating on the ordinary telephone network (PSTN). Data were gathered during telehealth contact on post-discharge day 3 and during extra calls with the clinic nurse, and during sessions with a research assistant comprising a follow-up call and an interview at the six-week post-surgical visit. Calls and interviews were recorded and transcribed. Data were analysed using constant comparative analysis. The results showed that videophone and telephone use provided care continuity for patients and their families following a child's back surgery. The relative effect of the videophone and telephone technology depended on the fit between the characteristics of the patients and families and the capacities of the technology. When implementing telehealth for follow-up care, a participatory process is recommended to ensure a fit between user characteristics and technology.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aftercare*
  • Caregivers
  • Child
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Continuity of Patient Care
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Remote Consultation / instrumentation*
  • Scoliosis / nursing
  • Scoliosis / surgery*
  • Telephone*
  • Videoconferencing*