Use of Mobile Health Applications and the Self-Management of Cancer: A Gendered Approach

Rita Mano
2019 Open Journal of Preventive Medicine  
The growing use of mobile health applications for health purposes increased the expectations about their effectiveness. The study examines the effectiveness of mobile health applications on the self-management behaviors of 168 individuals diagnosed with cancer. The results of a secondary analysis indicate that using extensively mobile health applications significantly increases women's health empowerment attitudes-reaching health decisions, changing their approach to health concerns, seeking
more » ... oncerns, seeking additional health consultation. However, the use of mobile health applications does not increase the likelihood of adopting self-management behaviors. The study indicates that the effectiveness of mobile health applications in self-management practices is contingent upon a set of personal characteristics and the level of technology skills. via email or the Web to request or renew a prescription, 9.9% to schedule an appointment, and 6.7% to discuss specific health problems. In a recent online survey of 3020 EU adults aged 18 and older, 82% of surveyed internet users in Italy, 76% in Germany and 71% in France went online for health-related activities in the surveyed period, while in the United Kingdom the figure was 56% [4]. Mobile health applications (Mapps) are a common way for individuals in the general population to address their health needs and learn about health-related products and services on their own time and at their own pace. In the US 21% of adults aged 18 -24 [5] use Mapps to follow a health regimen and facilitate communication exchanges with others who have similar health concerns [6] [7] or to contact healthcare providers to seek information and advice [8] . In Israel access to mobile health services for appointment reminders and lab tests [9] is on the rise. Similarly, in the EU a majority of respondents (69%) report that a faster and more reliable connection to digital sources would encourage them to use digital technologies more frequently to increase their wellbeing and address their health concerns [10] . Updating the information and content of Mapps is quite common in the US, especially in the delivery of health services [7] [11] . The empowering effect of Mapps on individuals manifests in increased health-related activity online [12] . Studies report that more people use the internet to search for health-related information than for banking and other similar applications [13] [14] [15] . The vast majority of health-related applications were reported to be "useful" [16] [17], as manifested in a "health-wise" lifestyle that includes better decisions regarding health management [18] and willingness to adopt new health behavior or change existing behavior [19] . Mapps effectiveness however is not clear though due to two main reasons [20]: 1) the discrepancy between motivations and active engagement in health-related activity is considerable [21] ; 2) the differences in individual's demographic and socioeconomic background such as age, gender and education [1] [9] . As a result, the evidence concerning the link between Mapps use and gender differences in the cancer self-management is limited [22] [23] [24] . Studies report indeed, the effect of gender on m-Health utilization in two contradictory ways. On the one hand, women are more likely to search for health information online [1] [25] . On the other hand, though, Some studies contend that women dislike using technology devices for health communication purposes [19] and doubt the "perceived functionality" of Mapps, especially when health concerns involve health risks [26] [27]. This is because technology devices do not allow them to process information selectively and hence lower the level of actual "gratification" [1] [28] . In fact, a substantial number of studies have raised concerns that the "technology embedded" cyber sources of health information and services may negatively affect women as well as individuals who lack the necessary skills or simply dislike using computer-mediated communication to seek information. Indeed, according to the techno-feminism approach, technology devices are not gender neutral and technology-based devices are mostly masculine. Since women differ from men with regard to their internal mental workings communica-R. Mano
doi:10.4236/ojpm.2019.910012 fatcat:d63gv3n7kbev3cj7d2cwx4vhfq