Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
December 14, 2020
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Survey: Despite interest, mobile health literacy and app use low in patients with CKD

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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A survey of patients with chronic kidney disease determined that although many are interested in using mobile health technologies, current electronic health literacy and use of these apps were low.

In addition, Black and Hispanic respondents reported more interest in such technologies than their white counterparts.

Mobile device with doctor
Source: Adobe Stock

“[Digital and mobile health] mHealth technology has the potential to improve the management of CKD by facilitating patient education, supporting behavior engagement (such as medication adherence and dietary modification) and aiding in patient-provider communication,” Sarah J. Schrauben, MD, MSCE, of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and colleagues wrote. “ ... In addition, the global coronavirus pandemic has necessitated that nephrology care be delivered remotely to improve social distancing and thus, has created the need to harness the potential of using mHealth technologies.”

To explore patient experience and attitudes with such technologies, the researchers surveyed 932 participants in the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort Study (mean age, 68 years).

Responses showed approximately 70% of patients currently used internet/email/smartphones, and 35% used mHealth apps. Overall, electronic health literacy was low, with researchers deeming 27% of all participants had “adequate” literacy. Participants who were younger, had a higher annual income and greater disease self-efficacy were more likely to demonstrate adequate eHealth literacy.

Regarding future use of mHealth technologies, researchers found participants who were younger than 65 years and who had more education, a higher income, better cognition and adequate health literacy showed a greater interest in use.

“Interestingly, members of racial or ethnic minority groups reported less internet/email use, but more interest in future use of mHealth technologies than white individuals,” Schrauben and colleagues wrote.

In addition, they categorized patient perspectives on mHealth technologies into one of three primary themes: concerns, barriers and willingness. Patients who expressed concern reported thinking the technologies might be intrusive or preferred face-to-face contact. Reported barriers included physical limitations and a lack of access. The researchers noted more patients were willing to use the technologies than were opposed.

“Health technologies have the potential to allow for greater digital equity, given that internet accessibility is more available via smartphones among underserved communities, racial minorities, adults with less education, and lower incomes, and since minorities reported more interest in using mHealth and digital technologies,” Schrauben and colleagues concluded. “Leveraging mHealth represents a potential opportunity to engage individuals with CKD, but further research needs to be conducted regarding barriers to use, inadequate eHealth literacy and low digital readiness.”