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The impact of digital communication on adolescent to adult mental health service transitions: Digital communication in mental health care

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Research in Nursing
Accepted/In press16 Feb 2020

King's Authors


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.
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.
Use of Neale’s (2016) iterative categorization technique to undertake a secondary analysis of qualitative data collected for the Long-term conditions Young people Networked Communication (LYNC) study.
DC were used successfully by young people and staff in ways that ameliorate known barriers to service transitions. They engender responsibility in young people, promote service access and contribute to client safety, particularly in times of crisis. DC risks include over-familiarity between young people and staff, and the possibility that messages go unread.
DC have potential to facilitate trust and familiarity during and after transition to adult 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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