Theoretical Background and research questions/hypothesis: A focus of prevention of HIV transmission is through the use of antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART is very effective for reducing the transmission of HIV and the HIV viral load in patients, but only with proper adherence. A mobile phone application (app) has been proposed by Grady hospital in Atlanta Georgia, to aid their HIV-positive patients with adherence as part of their participation in the CDC’s Care and Prevention demonstration (CAPUS) project. However, little is known about smartphone utilization among Atlanta, GA residents or among Grady hospital patients. The objective of this study was to identify the demographics and mobile and digital media behaviors of adults in Atlanta and of Grady patients, in particular in terms of health information.
Methods: Using secondary data from Scarborough Market Research collected from August 2012 - July 2013, the demographic characteristics and smartphone usage among adults (18+) in Atlanta were analyzed.
Results: 56.8% of Atlanta adults and 68.5% of adult Grady patients own a smartphone. Smartphone ownership (among Atlanta residents or Grady patients) is highest among adults 18-34 in both samples. In Atlanta, Hispanics reported the highest levels of smartphone ownership (78.4%) than African Americans (76.4%) and whites (74%). For Grady Hospital patients, whites reported the highest levels of smartphone ownership (89.1%), followed by Hispanics (74.7%) and African Americans (55.5%). For both samples, only 2.9% of smartphone owners reported using their smartphone for medical services/information in the past 30 days. Related to the question “I am my own doctor” and “I take my prescriptions exactly as prescribed”, young adults (18-34) are 44% more likely than other groups to see themselves as “their own doctors” and 15% less likely say that they take their prescriptions exactly as prescribed.
Conclusions: High smartphone ownership was identified in both samples, especially for younger population, but a low level of health-related utilization is reported. An HIV mobile app might be an effective alternative to increase medication and treatment adherence.
Implications for research and/or practice: More research is needed on best ways to engage younger audiences in its utilization. Ways to increase usage of the app among adult population should be addressed, perhaps the inclusion of simple text messages and tips on adherence reminders. In addition, the inclusion of social media or games may be beneficial to increase the utilization of the app for younger populations.