Article Abstract

Public attitudes towards mobile health in Singapore: a cross-sectional study

Authors: Ihtimam Hossain, Zi Zhao Lim, Joshua Jia Le Ng, Wan Jia Koh, Pei Shieen Wong


Background: Smartphone-mediated mobile health (mHealth) may assist patients with medication adherence, and disease monitoring. This study aimed to describe awareness and usage of, and attitudes towards, mHealth among the public in Singapore who own a smartphone. It also aimed to identify factors that influenced the above in the study population.
Methods: An online cross-sectional survey was administered via convenience sampling in November 2017. Participants were included if they were at least 18 years old and owned a smartphone. No identifiable data was collected. Responses were summarized using descriptive statistics. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to identify factors associated with awareness and usage of, and attitudes towards, mHealth.
Results: Participants (n=199) were mostly of Chinese ethnicity (84.4%), female (64.8%), young (mean age 33.7 years), and generally healthy (86.9% reported no chronic medical conditions). On average, participants were aware of 4.4 out of 7 mHealth functions and used 2.2 functions. Managing appointments, and fitness/diet tracking were the most well-known (93.5% and 82.4% respectively), and widely used (80.6% and 59.8% respectively) functions. A simple interface, data security, and being free to use, were rated as the most important factors influencing participants’ willingness to use mHealth. Most (64.3%) participants were keen to learn to use mHealth in future, 49.7% believed mHealth could help improve their health, but only 13.1% were willing to pay for it. Being employed (OR 3.71) was associated with higher mHealth usage, adjusted for baseline smartphone usage. Participants living in non-subsidized housing were more keen to try (OR 3.18), and willing to pay (OR 3.36) for mHealth.
Conclusions: Participants generally held positive attitudes towards mHealth, although usage was low. Lack of willingness to pay, and socioeconomic factors, are potential barriers to the widespread adoption of mHealth. Future research specifically involving patients is needed.