Association of mobile health (mHealth) use with health status and COVID-19-related concerns by people with mobility impairments

Rebecca E. Lee, Bin C. Suh, Alicia O’Neal, Chelsea Cameron, Daniel P. O’Connor, Punam Ohri-Vachaspati, Michael Todd, Rosemary B. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Mobile health (mHealth) technology has increased dramatically in the wake of the pandemic. Less research has focused on people with mobility impairing (PMI) disabilities. This study determined the prevalence of mHealth use among PMI adults during the COVID-19 escalation and examines demographic, health and COVID-19 concerns correlates. Methods: PMI adults (N = 304) completed an online survey investigating mHealth use and COVID-19 concerns related to food access in June of 2020. Smartphone and mHealth use were measured with an adapted version of the survey used in the Pew Internet & American Life project. Descriptive and multivariable analyses were conducted to determine associations of demographics, health status, and COVID-19 concerns with mHealth use. About two-thirds (N = 201) of the sample were mHealth users (owned a smartphone and engaged in health-promoting behaviors with the smartphone; e.g., sought online information, tracked health behaviors, used patient portals). Results: Having hypertension was associated with higher mHealth use, and having higher COVID-19 concerns about food access was associated with higher mHealth use. Those who used mHealth were also more engaged with smartphone apps for communication, services, and entertainment. Only the association between educational attainment and mHealth use remained significant after adjusting for other covariates in multivariable logistic regression models. Discussion: PMIs continue to need support in the use of mHealth technology to help maximize access to potentially important tools for rehabilitation and health management. There is a need to continue to investigate mHealth and its applications for people with disabilities.Implications for Rehabilitation Many people with mobility impairing disabilities may be missing opportunities for mHealth rehabilitation and healthcare. COVID-19 has widened existing gaps in access and use of mHealth technology among people with mobility impairing disabilities. Focused education is needed to help people with disabilities exploit the full range of services of their smartphones to increase access to care, social connectivity, and other important goods and services to enhance rehabilitation and health management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology
Early online dateJan 16 2023
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

Keywords

  • Disabled persons
  • access to healthy foods
  • cell phone
  • rehabilitation
  • telemedicine

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