Objectives: This study was designed to assess the use and preferences for information and communication technologies (ICTs) among patients with hypertension in Ecuador.
Methods: We conducted an anonymous cross-sectional study during 2018, in which 207 patients with hypertension were surveyed using an adapted version of the Michigan questionnaire. The survey included 16 questions in total, in which patients were asked to quantify their use for each ICT, and their interest in using ICTs to receive information and communicate with health care providers. Adjusted binomial and multinomial regression analyses were performed.
Results: Of the surveyed population, 74.9% of patients reported owning a smartphone, while 79.2% of responders reported having access to the internet. In general, web-based internet (53.7%) remains the main source for obtaining information related to hypertension, followed by YouTube (39.5%) and Facebook (30.2%). WhatsApp and Facebook were rated with the highest interest for receiving and asking health-related information. Older age and lower educational levels were consistently associated with less interest and usage for most ICTs.
Conclusions: The widespread use of ICTs opens new possibilities for improving the care of patients with hypertension through self-management education strategies. Further studies should be conducted to demonstrate how to develop and promote interventions through ICTs more effectively, based on the studied patterns of use and preferences of ICTs for specific patients.
Keywords: Latin America; hypertension; information and communication technology; self-management; social media.