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Arch Dis Child. 2019 Dec 17. pii: archdischild-2019-318258. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2019-318258. [Epub ahead of print]

Mobile device applications and treatment of autism spectrum disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis of effectiveness.

Author information

1
Ewha Women's University Mokdong Hospital, Seoul, Republic of Korea sunjaemoon16@gmail.com.
2
Statistics, Daegu University, Gyeongsan, Republic of Korea.
3
Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA.
4
School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA.
5
Lurie Center for Autism; Massachusetts General Hospital; Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
6
Psychiatry, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The current study was performed to assess the evidence for effects of therapeutic intervention with mobile device applications (apps) for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

DESIGN:

The main methodology of the current study was systematic review with meta-analysis.

SETTING:

Only randomised controlled trials (RCTs) for mobile device apps for individuals with ASD were considered for review in the current study.

PATIENTS:

The target population was individuals clinically diagnosed with ASD.

INTERVENTIONS:

Applications that are operable on a smart (mobile) device and interactive with users.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

The main outcomes were based on standardised mean differences in pretrial and post-trial scales in each control and intervention group.

RESULTS:

Out of a total of 1100 studies (after duplicate removal), 7 RCTs were selected for final analysis. Of the seven studies, two RCTs were further analysed for effects based on the visual and fine motor subscales of the Mullen Scales of Early Learning, which favoured the intervention groups (standardised mean difference (SMD)=0.41, 95% CI 0.03 to 0.80; SMD=0.41, 95% CI 0.03 to 0.80), without either having any heterogeneity (p>0.1) or publication bias.

CONCLUSIONS:

Although it is still early to draw a conclusion, available studies are showing promise for use of mobile device apps for treatment of individuals with ASD. More well-designed and large-scale studies focused on improving behavioural symptoms of ASD are warranted.

PROSPERO REGISTRATION NUMBER:

CRD42019128362.

KEYWORDS:

adolescent Health; autism; child psychiatry; evidence based medicine; information technology

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interests: None declared.

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