Aims To identify e-health technologies and their main characteristics used for nutritional interventions for adolescents and to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of the studies.
Methods The full protocol is available on the PROSPERO website (#CRD42016035882). A search was conducted across five databases (PubMed/MEDLINE, Scielo.ORG, Web of Science, PsycINFO, and Scopus) to identify papers describing nutritional interventions that used ICTs designed mainly for healthy adolescents. Full and original papers of randomized controlled trials, quasi-experimental or observational studies, published from 2005 to 2015, were included. The Effective Public Health Practice Project Quality Assessment Tool was used to assess study quality. Data was collected based on the guidance from the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination on undertaking reviews in healthcare
Results The search yielded 559 titles and abstracts. The number of studies which met the inclusion criteria was eleven. Recruitment of participants was mostly at schools. The follow-up of studies ranged from two weeks to two years. Interventional strategies included computer games, programs, text messages, and interactive CD-ROMs. More than 80% of studies (9 of 11) used computer-mediated Information and Communication Technologies. Five studies focused on multiple behaviours simultaneously. 6 interventions were developed based on a theoretical basis. Participants were exposed to interventions only once, daily, weekly, or according to a pre-determined number of lessons. Five studies had significant outcomes. All interventions that used games had significant outcomes. The quality assessment considered three studies as weak due to the non-representativeness of their samples and usage of non-validated questionnaires.
Conclusion Besides the heterogeneity and poor quality of the analyzed studies, it can be suggested that long-term interventions for adolescents that make use of frequent exposure to technological resources, and that have a theoretical component aimed at a single health behaviour change, tend to be more successful. Games showed to be a promising e-health platform for health education with adolescents.
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