Differences in mobile phone affinity between demographic groups: implications for mobile phone delivered interventions and programs

Marie A. Sillice, Shira Dunsiger, Ernestine Jennings, Ryan Lantini, Beth C. Bock


Background: The impact of any intervention or program delivered through mobile phones (mHealth) may be influenced by the individual recipient’s relationship with his or her mobile phone. However, few studies have assessed the attitudes and preferences of different demographic groups with respect to mobile phone use. This study assessed whether individuals’ demographic characteristics [primary demographics (PD): race, ethnicity, gender and age] are influential factors in attitudes and behaviors associated with mobile use pattern, using the Mobile Phone Affinity Scale (MPAS). The MPAS examines six underlying constructs associated with mobile phone use: Connectedness, Productivity, Empowerment, Anxious Attachment, Addiction, and Continuous Use.
Methods: U.S. adults (n=1,055, mean age 32.5 years, 10% Hispanic, 86.3% white) completed the MPAS and provided information about PD (e.g., race, ethnicity, age) and social demographic (SocD) characteristics (e.g., having children, employment). Chi-square analyses and multivariate analyses were used to assess the relationships among the PD and SocD variables, and MPAS constructs.
Results: Significant differences were found between PD and SocD variables (all P<0.01). Specifically, whites were more likely than non-whites to be married and to be living with children, while non-Hispanics tended to report higher household income and education than Hispanics. Women were more likely to report living with children and less likely to have full-time employment than men (all P<0.01). There was a significant effect of PD characteristics on MPAS constructs in that whites and women tended to score higher on some MPAS constructs than non-whites and men (all P<0.01). Similarly, some SocD characteristics including employment status and living with children were differentially associated with some MPAS constructs (all P<0.01).
Conclusions: Results indicate that there are differences in attitudes and use preferences to mobile phone use based on some of the primary and SocD demographic characteristics. These findings provide important insights into mHealth intervention components that will increase appeal to different subgroups.