Background: Web-based information and interventions for mental illness are increasingly being provided. There is an expectation that citizens have access to the internet and are competent in using technology. People with schizophrenia are often excluded from social engagement, have cognitive impairment, and have very limited income, all of which may reduce their use of technology. Objective: This study aimed to investigate technology access, use of digital technology, and confidence in using technology among people with schizophrenia living in the community. Methods: Face-to-face structured interviews with 50 people with schizophrenia (aged 18-65 years) living in the northern suburbs of Adelaide, South Australia, were conducted using an instrument designed to assess technology access and utilization. Results: Most participants (42/50, 84%) owned a mobile phone, but only 58% (29/50) owned a smartphone. Two-thirds of participants (33/50, 66%) had access to the internet at home, using a smartphone or computer. Moreover, 40% (20/50) of participants used the internet at least daily, but 30% (15/50) of participants had never accessed the internet from any device. Approximately half of the participants (24/50, 48%) had never used Facebook. Participants rarely used community facilities (eg, libraries and cafes) to access the internet. There were no significant differences (P values ranged from .14 to .70) between younger participants (aged 18-34 years) and older participants (aged 35-64 years) in internet or smartphone access or confidence in using technology. Conclusions: Although the sample size of this study is small, it shows limited technology access, use of digital technology, and confidence in using technology among the participants. This could be a barrier to the online delivery of information and interventions for people with schizophrenia. To better understand the impacts of such technological disadvantage and potential disparities in access and use of online resources, prospective studies should recruit a larger sample size and include control subjects matched for socioeconomic disadvantage.
Bibliographical note©Kwok Tung Gordon Ann Wong, Dennis Liu, Ryan Balzan, Daniel King, Cherrie Galletly. Originally published in JMIR Mental Health (http://mental.jmir.org), 28.01.2020. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Mental Health, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://mental.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.
Wong, K. T. G., Liu, D., Balzan, R., King, D., & Galletly, C. (2020). Smartphone and internet access and utilization by people with schizophrenia in South Australia: Quantitative survey study. JMIR mental health, 7(1), [e11551]. https://doi.org/10.2196/11551