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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Web 2.0 systems supporting childhood chronic disease management: A pattern language representation of a general architecture

Toomas Timpka12*, Henrik Eriksson2, Johnny Ludvigsson3, Joakim Ekberg12, Sam Nordfeldt13 and Lena Hanberger13

Author affiliations

1 Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden

2 Department of Computer and Information Science, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden

3 Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden

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Citation and License

BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2008, 8:54  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-54

Published: 28 November 2008

Abstract

Background

Chronic disease management is a global health concern. By the time they reach adolescence, 10–15% of all children live with a chronic disease. The role of educational interventions in facilitating adaptation to chronic disease is receiving growing recognition, and current care policies advocate greater involvement of patients in self-care. Web 2.0 is an umbrella term for new collaborative Internet services characterized by user participation in developing and managing content. Key elements include Really Simple Syndication (RSS) to rapidly disseminate awareness of new information; weblogs (blogs) to describe new trends, wikis to share knowledge, and podcasts to make information available on personal media players. This study addresses the potential to develop Web 2.0 services for young persons with a chronic disease. It is acknowledged that the management of childhood chronic disease is based on interplay between initiatives and resources on the part of patients, relatives, and health care professionals, and where the balance shifts over time to the patients and their families.

Methods

Participatory action research was used to stepwise define a design specification in the form of a pattern language. Support for children diagnosed with diabetes Type 1 was used as the example area. Each individual design pattern was determined graphically using card sorting methods, and textually in the form Title, Context, Problem, Solution, Examples and References. Application references were included at the lowest level in the graphical overview in the pattern language but not specified in detail in the textual descriptions.

Results

The design patterns are divided into functional and non-functional design elements, and formulated at the levels of organizational, system, and application design. The design elements specify access to materials for development of the competences needed for chronic disease management in specific community settings, endorsement of self-learning through online peer-to-peer communication, and systematic accreditation and evaluation of materials and processes.

Conclusion

The use of design patterns allows representing the core design elements of a Web 2.0 system upon which an 'ecological' development of content respecting these constraints can be built. Future research should include evaluations of Web 2.0 systems implemented according to the architecture in practice settings.