Archived project

mHealth: Exploring how older Hong Kong residents use mHealth technologies

Goal: The use of mHealth technologies in the fields of health promotion and health literacy is growing. Wireless devices such as tablets and smart phones have been shown to be inexpensive and increasingly accessible tools in health promotion. Although an increasing number of people in Hong Kong own smart phones or tablets there are important differences in the way that devices are accessed and used. People over 65 years of age have been described as passive users of technology – that is, they may own or have access to devices but not use these tools to seek out or receive information. This project will explore how mHealth tools are used by this target group and how the use of this modality in health promotion impacts on knowledge and understanding.

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Project log

Margo Turnbull
added 2 research items
Background: Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is one of the most technologically advanced and interconnected cities in the world in terms of ownership of internet-enabled mobile devices. mHealth programs that make use of mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets to maximise access to health information, have been identified as having great potential for ageing communities for the management of health and social care needs. This paper reports the findings of a two-stage exploratory research project which examined the experiences and perceptions of Hong Kong residents aged over 60 years in relation to mHealth technologies and health literacy. Methods: This study collected data from older Hong Kong residents at a community centre. Data were collected at two stages in July and August 2019. Stage one involved a one-on-one interview at Centre A with each research participant. The self-report surveys included seven questions about mobile phone ownership and a 16-item gerontechnology survey previously used in Hong Kong. Stage two of the data collection involved three discussion groups with the research participants that were run over a 3-week period. Results: (I) Providing health information via digital devices was considered promising and acceptable by most of our participants. (II) Major concerns that impeded the elders' use of digital devices were their lack of the necessary skills to use these gadgets and their loss of memory. (III) Many participants stated their concern that they found it difficult to recall information immediately after being taught. (IV) Most participants had problems in reading because of low literacy levels or some age-related eye-diseases. (V) Video instructions were preferred by participants as audio and visual input is more useful than rather than static written information with heavy reading requirements. Conclusions: Participants were interested in using mHealth technologies. Education and ongoing support in their use is necessary.
Background: Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is one of the most technologically advanced and interconnected cities in the world in terms of ownership of internet-enabled mobile devices. mHealth programs that make use of mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets to maximise access to health information, have been identified as having great potential for ageing communities for the management of health and social care needs. This paper reports the findings of a two-stage exploratory research project which examined the experiences and perceptions of Hong Kong residents aged over 60 years in relation to mHealth technologies and health literacy. Methods: This study collected data from older Hong Kong residents at a community centre. Data were collected at two stages in July and August 2019. Stage one involved a one-on-one interview at Centre A with each research participant. The self-report surveys included seven questions about mobile phone ownership and a 16-item gerontechnology survey previously used in Hong Kong. Stage two of the data collection involved three discussion groups with the research participants that were run over a 3-week period. Results: (I) Providing health information via digital devices was considered promising and acceptable by most of our participants. (II) Major concerns that impeded the elders’ use of digital devices were their lack of the necessary skills to use these gadgets and their loss of memory. (III) Many participants stated their concern that they found it difficult to recall information immediately after being taught. (IV) Most participants had problems in reading because of low literacy levels or some age-related eye-diseases. (V) Video instructions were preferred by participants as audio and visual input is more useful than rather than static written information with heavy reading requirements. Conclusions: Participants were interested in using mHealth technologies. Education and ongoing support in their use is necessary.
Margo Turnbull
added an update
Abstract: Hong Kong is one of the most technologically interconnected regions in the world. Internet access is cheap, readily available and nearly 100% of mobile phones are 'smart phones'. In keeping with global trends and arguments for efficiency and cost-effectiveness, local services and organisations have enthusiastically pursued the development of health and lifestyle tracking mobile apps along with numerous eHealth (including mHealth) technologies. However, as acknowledged in the literature, this rapid digitization of health care and communication has opened up new digital divides between generations and socio-economic groups. This paper describes a novel study of perceptions and uses of eHealth and mHealth technologies in older Cantonese people in one area of Hong Kong. Data was collected through 20 hours of semi-structured interviews and group discussions with 16 people aged between 62 and 97. The findings of this research highlight the emergence of has been described as the third digital divide – that is, people may have access to digital devices and the ability to 'use' them but language, communication, education level and literacy skills limit the transfer of the benefits of access into everyday life. The continuing importance of eHealth is clear particularly in a global context of rapid technological advances, ageing populations, increasing rates of chronic disease and longer life expectancy. Exploring and understanding the digital divides(s) amongst older people and within particular communities and groups is vital to optimize the benefits of eHealth. This will in turn minimize the risks of developing technologies that function as mechanisms of division and, for some people, exclusion.
 
Margo Turnbull
added an update
With the support of a local centre for elderly residents we have started data collection. We have used validated survey tools to collect interesting information about attitudes and experiences of mHealth in Hong Kong.
 
Margo Turnbull
added a project goal
The use of mHealth technologies in the fields of health promotion and health literacy is growing. Wireless devices such as tablets and smart phones have been shown to be inexpensive and increasingly accessible tools in health promotion. Although an increasing number of people in Hong Kong own smart phones or tablets there are important differences in the way that devices are accessed and used. People over 65 years of age have been described as passive users of technology – that is, they may own or have access to devices but not use these tools to seek out or receive information. This project will explore how mHealth tools are used by this target group and how the use of this modality in health promotion impacts on knowledge and understanding.