Adolescent and parent use of new technologies for health communication: a study in an urban latino community

J Public Health Res. 2015 Feb 19;4(1):376. doi: 10.4081/jphr.2015.376. eCollection 2015 Feb 20.

Abstract

Background: Mobile communication technologies provide novel opportunities to support clinic-based health initiatives. Adoption of technologies for daily use and for health communication can differ between communities, depending upon demographic and cultural characteristics.

Design and methods: A survey was administered in adolescent primary care and subspecialty clinics to assess parent-adolescent preferences in use of mobile technologies and social media to support provider-patient communication in an urban Latino community.

Results: Of 130 respondents (65 parent-adolescent pairs), approximately half frequently sent and received text messages but lacked agreement regarding the other's text messaging use. In contrast, adolescents only rarely used email compared to parents (15.4% versus 37.5%, P=0.006). Of social media, Facebook™/MySpace™ was most frequently used by parents and youth (60% and 55.4%, P=0.59); however, most lacked interest in using social media for health communication. Parents reported more interest than adolescents in receiving email (73.4% versus 35.9%, P<0.001) and text messages (58.5% versus 33.9%, P=0.005) for health, but had more concerns about privacy issues (26.2% versus 9.2%, P=0.01). Respondents who were American born (aOR 5.7, 95%CI 1.2-28.5) or regularly used Instant Messaging or Facebook™/MySpace™ (aOR 4.6, 95%CI 1.4-14.7) were more likely to be interested in using social media for health communication.

Conclusions: These findings underscore the importance of targeted assessment for planning the utilization of communication technologies and social media in clinical care or research for underserved youth. Significance for public healthCommunication technologies provide novel opportunities to support clinic-based health initiatives for underserved youth. However, adoption of technologies among communities may differ depending upon demographic and cultural characteristics. We surveyed a sample of urban Latino parents and youth regarding their current use of mobile and social media technologies and preferences for use of these technologies for health communication. This is the first study to compare the perspective of underserved parents and their youth regarding use of a wide variety of mobile and social communication technologies, concordance between youth-parent pairs in perceived use of texting and preferences for the purpose of health communication. Our findings differ from those from adults surveyed in other under-served communities, highlighting heterogeneity between communities. Variations in use of communication technologies and social media and preferences between parent-youth pairs suggest that understanding these factors within target populations is crucial for successful use to support health and health services.

Keywords: Latino; health communication; mobile technology; novel technologies; text messaging.