Use of Mobile Health Applications for Health-Seeking Behavior Among US Adults

Soumitra S. Bhuyan, Ning Lu, Aastha Chandak, Hyunmin Kim, David Wyant, Jay Bhatt, Satish Kedia, Cyril F. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study explores the use of mobile health applications (mHealth apps) on smartphones or tablets for health-seeking behavior among US adults. Data was obtained from cycle 4 of the 4th edition of the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS 4). Weighted multivariate logistic regression models examined predictors of 1) having mHealth apps, 2) usefulness of mHealth apps in achieving health behavior goals, 3) helpfulness in medical care decision-making, and 4) asking a physician new questions or seeking a second opinion. Using the Andersen Model of health services utilization, independent variables of interest were grouped under predisposing factors (age, gender, race, ethnicity, and marital status), enabling factors (education, employment, income, regular provider, health insurance, and rural/urban location of residence), and need factors (general health, confidence in their ability to take care of health, Body Mass Index, smoking status, and number of comorbidities). In a national sample of adults who had smartphones or tablets, 36 % had mHealth apps on their devices. Among those with apps, 60 % reported the usefulness of mHealth apps in achieving health behavior goals, 35 % reported their helpfulness for medical care decision-making, and 38 % reported their usefulness in asking their physicians new questions or seeking a second opinion. The multivariate models revealed that respondents were more likely to have mHealth apps if they had more education, health insurance, were confident in their ability to take good care of themselves, or had comorbidities, and were less likely to have them if they were older, had higher income, or lived in rural areas. In terms of usefulness of mHealth apps, those who were older and had higher income were less likely to report their usefulness in achieving health behavior goals. Those who were older, African American, and had confidence in their ability to take care of their health were more likely to respond that the mHealth apps were helpful in making a medical care decision and asking their physicians new questions or for a second opinion. Potentially, mHealth apps may reduce the burden on primary care, reduce costs, and improve the quality of care. However, several personal-level factors were associated with having mHealth apps and their perceived helpfulness among their users, indicating a multidimensional digital divide in the population of US adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number153
JournalJournal of Medical Systems
Volume40
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Information Systems
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management

Keywords

  • Health care apps
  • Health-seeking behavior
  • Mobile health
  • Smartphones

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