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Title:mHealth literacy: characterizing people’s ability to use smartphone-based health-related applications
Author(s):Ahmed, Shameem
Director of Research:Williams, Kate
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Williams, Kate
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Alkalimat, Abdul; Smith, Linda; Veinot, Tiffany
Department / Program:Information Sciences
Discipline:Library & Information Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
mHealth app
Abstract:This dissertation investigates the following research question: what skills does a user need to use a health-related app on a smartphone? It coins the term ‘mHealth Literacy’ to refer to all such necessary skills. The research methodology of this dissertation has two parts: a pilot study and a final study. In the pilot study, three phone interviews were conducted with three regular and skilled users of smartphone-based health-related apps (or “mHealth apps,” for short). For the final study, face-to-face interviews were conducted with 24 users of mHealth apps. The coding and analysis of the study transcripts and field notes identified that mHealth app users should have 15 skills. These 15 skills are: Smartphone Literacy, App Literacy, English Literacy, Numeracy, App-centric Health Literacy, Information Literacy, Graph Literacy, Computer Literacy, Web Literacy, Privacy awareness, Awareness of negative impact of mHealth apps, No fear of technology, Strong desire to use mHealth apps, Consistency in using mHealth apps, and Willingness to consult a doctor whenever necessary. Earlier it was considered a user’s responsibility to learn all the required skills to be considered as health literate. However, at present, health literacy is considered as a complex concept that involves not only the users but also their families, healthcare professionals, communities, and the health care system. In the same way, several participants of this study expressed a concern that a poorly designed mHealth app might be unusable even for an expert mHealth app user. Hence, they mentioned that it is not only the user’s responsibility to learn the 15 skills to be mHealth literate but also mHealth app developers should share the same, if not more, responsibilities. As a result, 13 recommendations have been developed, all drawn from participants’ experiences and reflections, to design mHealth apps. Five design recommendation were supported by existing research while the remaining eight were suggested by the participants of this study. This dissertation will contribute to the field of eHealth Literacy. With the emergence of new forms of information technology, the focus of Health Literacy has been extended from the physical world to the cyber world. A new research domain called eHealth Literacy has emerged as a result. By integrating mobile technology, the concept of mHealth Literacy has evolved out of eHealth Literacy. Whereas definitions of eHealth Literacy are up to this point based on theory, this dissertation through an empirical study advances understanding of eHealth literacy when it comes to mobile devices and their applications.
Issue Date:2017-03-20
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Shameem Ahmed
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-08-10
Date Deposited:2017-05

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