Consumer Attitudes and Perceptions on mHealth Privacy and Security: Findings From a Mixed-Methods Study

J Health Commun. 2015;20(6):673-9. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2015.1018560. Epub 2015 Apr 14.


This study examined consumers' attitudes and perceptions regarding mobile health (mHealth) technology use in health care. Twenty-four focus groups with 256 participants were conducted in 5 geographically diverse locations. Participants were also diverse in age, education, race/ethnicity, gender, and rural versus urban settings. Several key themes emerged from the focus groups. Findings suggest that consumer attitudes regarding mHealth privacy/security are highly contextualized, with concerns depending on the type of information being communicated, where and when the information is being accessed, who is accessing or seeing the information, and for what reasons. Consumers frequently considered the tradeoffs between the privacy/security of using mHealth technologies and the potential benefits. Having control over mHealth privacy/security features and trust in providers were important issues for consumers. Overall, this study found significant diversity in attitudes regarding mHealth privacy/security both within and between traditional demographic groups. Thus, to address consumers' concerns regarding mHealth privacy and security, a one-size-fits-all approach may not be adequate. Health care providers and technology developers should consider tailoring mHealth technology according to how various types of information are communicated in the health care setting, as well as according to the comfort, skills, and concerns individuals may have with mHealth technology.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Computers*
  • Computer Security*
  • Consumer Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Privacy / psychology*
  • Telemedicine*
  • Young Adult