Caitlin S. Sayegh, Ellen Iverson, Clarissa Newman, Diane Tanaka, Ellen F. Olshansky, Clarisa Wijaya, Marvin Belzer; Original publication date: Dec. 14, 2021; DOI: 10.1177/17423953211067436


Objectives: Adolescents and young adults (AYA) with chronic illnesses often struggle with illness self-management. The objective of this study is to understand how AYA with various chronic illnesses develop self-management skills and which mobile health (mHealth) strategies they believe could be helpful.


Semi-structured interviews were conducted with patients, between 16 to 20 years old, living with at least one chronic illness (N = 19), between 2018 and 2019 in Los Angeles, CA. Three coders completed thematic coding to understand how AYA develop and maintain self-management skills, to inform the development of mHealth interventions appropriate across a variety of chronic conditions.


Results suggest that AYA develop self-management skills through several strategies, including (1) getting organized, (2) making it work for me and (3) keeping the right mentality. AYA described developing these strategies through: (1) receiving social support, (2) accessing helpful tools and technologies, and (3) going through a maturation process. They provided recommendations for mHealth intervention developers.


The results suggest that an appealing mHealth intervention could support AYA patients in proactively acquiring self-management skills and prevent having to rely on trial and error or uneven access to guidance and support. Interventions should be responsive to individual technology preferences and practices.