Building a prototype of a continence goal-selection tool for children with spina bifida: Patient, parental and urology provider recommendations

J Pediatr Urol. 2023 Aug;19(4):404.e1-404.e10. doi: 10.1016/j.jpurol.2023.03.014. Epub 2023 Mar 20.


Introduction: No tools exist to help children with spina bifida (SB) describe their incontinence concerns and to help their providers account for them when evaluating management success. Our aim was to understand patients', parents', and clinicians' preferences about how a SB continence goal-selection tool (MyGoal-C) should look and function, and to create a tool prototype.

Methods: We used a qualitative research approach integrated with human-centered design methods. We recruited children with SB (8-17 years old), parents ( ≥ 18 years old) of children with SB (8-17 years old) in clinic and online, and urology healthcare providers at our institution. We surveyed children and parents, and conducted parent and provider Zoom-based prototyping sessions to iteratively design the app. Design researchers analyzed online activities using affinity diagramming, group analysis and modeling activities. Provider sessions were analyzed with qualitative thematic analysis based on grounded theory. Recruitment continued until saturation was reached.

Results: Thirteen children with SB participated (median age: 10 years old, 4 female, 9 shunted, 10 using bladder catheterizations). Thirty-seven parents participated (33 mothers, median age: 43 years old). Children and parents unanimously recommended an app and their comments generated 6 major theme domains: goal-setting process, in-app content, working toward goals, urology provider check-in, app customization, and using big data to improve future functionality. Twenty-one of the parents participated in 3 prototyping sessions with 6 breakout groups. The remaining 16 parents and 13 children then completed the Prototype Testing Survey, leading to a refined prototype and a visual flow map of the app experience (Figure). Feedback from 11 urology healthcare providers (7 female, 6 advanced practice providers) generated 8 themes: patient engagement/autonomy, clearly displaying results, integration into clinic workflow, not increasing clinical staff burden, potential clinician bias, parental involvement, limitations of the app, and future app adaptation. These cumulative data allowed for a construction of a final app prototype.

Comment: Findings of our study lay the foundation for creating a goal-selection app that meets preferences and needs of children, parents, and providers. Next steps involve building the app, testing its usability and assessing it prospectively in a clinical setting.

Conclusions: Children with SB and parents preferred an app to help them set and track continence goals. All stakeholders, including urology providers, offered complementary and mutually reinforcing feedback to guide the creation of an app prototype that would ultimately be integrated into a clinic visit.

Keywords: Decision-making; Incontinence; Pediatrics; Qualitative research; Spinal dysraphism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Parents
  • Spinal Dysraphism* / complications
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urology*