Stressful parenting eased by an app

Parents play a fundamental role in the lives of their children. However, performing this role might be a stressful burden in cases when a child is diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) . The popular Parental Behavioral Therapy (PBT) approach aimed at facilitating the interaction between the parents and ADHD diagnosed children often lacks success due to the adherence problem. However, there is good news: technology could enhance adherence to PBT. The study by Laura Pina, Kael Rowan, Asta Roseway, Paul Johns, Gillian R. Hayes, and Mary Czerwinski, Best Paper at PervasiveHealth 2014, explores how to detect high level of stress in parents to provide contextual PBT strategies.

The goal of the paper is to assist parents in stressful situations by offering them context-based strategies and finally lead to long-lasting behavioral change of a child. The paper’s contribution to the field is twofold: 1) it explores in situ PBT support; 2) it reviews a novel format for PBT delivery.

How do the researchers go about the analysis? To detect stressful moments they explore changes in Electrodermal Activity (EDA) using wearable sensors. The offered intervention strategies are divided into heat-of-the-moment and reflective solutions and delivered to parents via Microsoft Windows Phone 8 app with the prototype called ParentGuardian. The two-week deployment study was conducted in two 7-day phases.

How much data has been collected? Around 220 hours of EDA data allowed the paper authors to conclude that, in general, parents find contextual in situ support useful for learning coping strategies. Furthermore, they found convenient the peripheral display, which was allowing them to recover the missed intervention cues.

All in all, the prospect for ParentGuardian is promising: it reminds parents to implement strategies in the moments of need while its novel design focuses on an undiscovered element of the family ecosystem.

Want to learn more about ParentGuardian? You can read the full paper here.