Can eHealth applications improve renal transplant outcomes for adolescents and young adults? A systematic review

Kim Bul, Christopher A.M. Bannon, Nithya Krishnan, Amber Dunlop, Ala Szczepura

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Background and Objectives: Adherence to medical treatment following a kidney transplant is particularly challenging during adolescence and young adulthood. There is increasing evidence of the benefits of the use of computer and mobile technology (labelled as eHealth hereafter) including serious gaming and gamification in many clinical areas. We aimed to conduct a systematic review of such interventions designed to improve self-management skills, treatment adherence and clinical outcomes in young kidney transplant recipients aged 16 to 30 years.

Method: The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsychINFO, SCOPUS and CINAHL databases were searched for studies published between 01 January 1990 and 20 October 2020. Articles were short-listed by two independent reviewers based on pre-defined inclusion/exclusion criteria. Reference lists were screened and authors of published conference abstracts contacted. Two reviewers independently appraised selected articles, systematically extracted data and assessed the quality of individual studies (CASP and SORT). Thematic analysis was used for evidence synthesis; quantitative meta-analysis was not possible.

Results: A total of 1,098 unique records were identified. Short-listing identified four eligible studies, all randomized controlled trials (n=266 participants). Trials mainly focused on mHealth applications or electronic pill dispensers (mostly for patients >18 years old). Most studies reported on clinical outcome measures. All showed improved adherence but there were no differences in the number of rejections. Study quality was low for all four studies.

Conclusions: The findings of this review suggest that eHealth interventions can improve treatment adherence and clinical outcomes for young kidney transplant patients. More robust and high-quality studies are now needed to validate these findings. Future studies should also extend beyond short-term outcomes, and consider cost of implementation. The review was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42017062469).

Original languageEnglish
Article number100760
Number of pages12
JournalTransplantation Reviews
Issue number2
Early online date7 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (


  • Systematic review
  • eHealth
  • Adolescent
  • Young adult
  • Renal transplant outcomes


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