The study, conducted by researchers at the Center for Innovation in Paediatric Practices in The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, compared the results of 878 primary care patients, ages 11 to 20 years, who participated in a unique, computerized behavioural screening system between June 1, 2005 and February 20, 2006 called “Health eTouch.”

This is a Web application, presented to patients on secure wireless Web tablets with 10-inch touch screen displays. Questions vary based on the user’s age and reported behaviours and are drawn from existing publicly available validated measures.

Study participants took part in Health eTouch screening in the waiting rooms of the urban clinics they attended. These clinics were randomly assigned to have paediatricians either receive screening results just prior to face-to-face encounters with patients – “Immediate Results” condition – or two to three business days later – “Delayed Results” condition.

When provided with the screening results, paediatricians were able to view a summary of patient responses to screening questions, as well as a list of flagged responses thought to be indicative of high-risk behaviours and an overall positive or negative rating for various behavioural concerns tested during the screening process.

After participating in Health eTouch, 59 percent of respondents screened positive for at least one of the following behavioural concerns: injury risk behaviours, significant depressive symptoms or substance use. Of those youths who screened positive and whose results were provided to paediatricians just prior to their consultation, 68 percent were identified as having a problem by their paediatrician, while only 52 percent of youths whose results were delayed were identified as having a problem by their paediatrician.; Source: Nationwide Children's Hospital