Access to Internet, Smartphone Usage, and Acceptability of Mobile Health Technology Among Cancer Patients

Abstract [from journal]

Purpose: The use of mobile health (mHealth) technologies to augment patient care enables providers to communicate remotely with patients enhancing the quality of care and patient engagement. Few studies evaluated predictive factors of its acceptance and subsequent implementation, especially in medically underserved populations.

Methods: A cross-sectional study of 151 cancer patients was conducted at an academic medical center in the USA. A trained interviewer performed structured interviews regarding the barriers and facilitators of patients' current and desired use of mHealth technology for healthcare services.

Results: Of the 151 participants, 35.8% were male and ages ranged from 21 to 104 years. 73.5% of participants currently have daily access to internet, and 68.2% currently own a smartphone capable of displaying mobile applications. Among all participants, acceptability of a daily mHealth application was significantly higher in patients with a college-level degree (OR 2.78, CI95% 1.25-5.88) and lower in patients > 80 years of age (OR 0.05, CI95% 0.01-0.23). Differences in acceptability when adjusted for current smartphone use and daily access to internet were nonsignificant. Among smartphone users, the desire to increase cancer knowledge was associated with a higher likelihood of utilizing a mHealth application (OR 261.53, CI95% 10.13-6748.71).

Conclusion: The study suggests that factors such as age, educational achievement, and access to internet are significant predictors of acceptability of a mHealth application among cancer patients. Healthcare organizations should consider these factors when launching patient engagement platforms.