Characteristics Associated with Mobile Phone Usage among TB Populations in Pune, India

Post Date: 
2017-10-01
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Summary: 

With 8.6 million people affected worldwide in 2012, the control and prevention of tuberculosis (TB) has become an international priority.  In order to reduce burdens and achieve global goals for TB control, new and innovative tools are necessary.  With a growing number of mobile phone subscriptions occurring in both developed and developing worlds alike, mobile health (mHealth) technologies pose as an untapped resource in the field of TB control.  Various pilot studies have shown mHealth technologies to be promising in increasing TB awareness, case detection, monitoring and treatment.  Of note, the use of the short message service (SMS) in improving adherence to directly observed treatment, short course (DOTS) has been suggested.  With a high prevalence of tuberculosis as well as a growing number mobile phone subscriptions, India is well-positioned to receive the benefits of mHealth interventions related to TB prevention and control.  Further research is needed to design and tailor such an intervention, estimate its scope of impact and technical feasibility among specific target populations.

The objective of this study is to describe the characteristics and behavioral patterns associated with mobile phone access and use among those diagnosed with tuberculosis in Pune, India.  A cross-sectional and longitudinal study will be conducted to explore the relationship between various demographic and mobile phone access patterns among those with TB.  Participants will be selected by convenience sample from the TB Control Program clinic at Sassoon General Hospital (SGH) and BJ Medical College (BJMC).  Questionnaires will be administered following written informed consent, and will gather participant demographic information as well as information on mobile phone access, use, attitudes and behavior.  Questions related to interest regarding mHealth interventions for TB control will also be included.  Follow-up contact at one week, one month, three months, and six months will be made to those participants who self-report as owning a mobile phone to estimate long-term mobile phone access.

We expect generally high ownership of and reported comfort in using mobile phones across the study population and thereby high access to mobile technology overall.  We expect to see significant differences in ownership and access among demographic strata such as sex, education level and income status. We also expect interest in mHealth interventions to be high.  In comparing those that own mobile phones compared to those that do not, differences in socio-economic status/income, sex and highest level of education attained are expected.  We also expect participant access to the mobile phone registered to wane over time.

Objective
The objective of this study is to describe the characteristics and behavioral patterns associated with mobile phone access and use among those diagnosed with tuberculosis in Pune, India.  Specific study aims are:

Specific Aim 1: To identify the factors associated with mobile phone access among those diagnosed with TB. 
Specific Aim 2: To estimate the interest of those diagnosed with TB in receiving mHealth technologies. 
Specific Aim 3: To understand the long-term behavioral patterns of mobile phone access among those diagnosed with TB.