A framework partnership agreement recently signed between the Catalan Institute of Health’s (ICS) Metropolitana Sud Regional Office and the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) will focus on improving health promotion and disease prevention among adolescents, particularly with regard to their use of information and communication technology (ICT) innovations, such as the internet and mobile phones.
Specifically, the agreement involves the development of joint projects between PSiNET research group and the Research Support Unit for the Costa de Ponent Primary Healthcare Directorate, with the group Seatics 2.0. This group, established by the Unit’s Nursing consultant, José Antonio Zafra, works in the area of adolescent healthcare, focussing on this age group’s relationships with new technologies as well as the school environment. PSiNET specializes in the study of psychological aspects with regard to ICTs, health and quality of life. One of the first practical applications of the agreement will take the form of a revised investigation into the effects of internet use on young people, a study that the PSiNET group initially carried out in 2014, which involved a survey of close to 2,800 Catalan students. The study, which is expected to begin in conjunction with the forthcoming 2016-17 academic year, aims to identify the type of information adolescents search for on social media and their predisposition towards the internet becoming a regular source of information on health-related issues.
José Antonio Zafra believes it is vital “to talk to teenagers about health using their language and the communication tools which are becoming an increasingly significant part of their lives from an increasingly young age. It’s a matter of those of us working in healthcare adapting to the next generation and developing new methods of health promotion and disease prevention”.
Coordinator of the UOC’s PSiNET adolescent research programme, Dr Noemí Guillamón, adds that the group is focused on “exploring the use of internet and social media networks in adolescent health, identifying their health concerns and their perception of the need for support in order to, ultimately, design and implement internet health resources aimed at meeting those needs”.
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