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The impact of digital communication on adolescent to adult mental health service transitions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Rosie Martin, Jackie Sturt, Frances Griffiths

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-288
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Research in Nursing
Issue number3
Published1 May 2020

King's Authors


Background: Inaccessible services and poor communication are barriers to successful transitions between adolescent and adult mental health services, for which digital communications (DC) offer a possible solution. Aims: To investigate the role of DC, including smartphone apps, email and text, given the known barriers and facilitators of mental health service transitions reported in the literature. Methods: Use of Neale’s (2016) iterative categorisation technique to undertake a secondary analysis of qualitative data collected for the Long-term conditions Young people Networked Communication (LYNC) study. Results: DC were used successfully by young people and staff in ways that ameliorated known barriers to service transitions. They engendered responsibility in young people, promoted service access and contributed to client safety, particularly in times of crisis. DC risks included over-familiarity between young people and staff, and the possibility that messages could go unread. Conclusions: DC have the potential to facilitate trust and familiarity during and after transition to adult mental health services. They can strengthen young people’s perceptions of adult services as supportive, empowering and available. DC can be used for frequent ‘check-ins’ and remote digital support for social and personal problems. They provide an additional safety net for at-risk individuals, but require careful boundary setting.

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