Original Research

Access and use of digital technology by patients with psychosis at a hospital in South Africa

Smitha Sharma-Misra, Mihoko Maru, Andrew Tomita, Saeeda Paruk
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 29 | a2151 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v29i0.2151 | © 2023 Smitha Sharma-Misra, Mihoko Maru, Andrew Tomita, Saeeda Paruk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 July 2023 | Published: 07 December 2023

About the author(s)

Smitha Sharma-Misra, Department of Psychiatry, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Mihoko Maru, Department of Psychiatry, Boston Medical Center, Boston, United States
Andrew Tomita, Centre for Rural Health, School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; and KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP), College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Saeeda Paruk, Department of Psychiatry, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Abstract

Background: There is growing interest in the use of digital information and communication technology (ICT) for mental health care purposes. Information and communication technology tools may enhance mental health literacy and help-seeking behaviour.

Aim: To describe the access to, use and perception of ICT in people with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

Setting: The study was conducted at an urban psychiatric hospital in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province, South Africa.

Methods: Participants completed questionnaires on their socio-demographic characteristics and access to, use and perception of ICT. Multiple ordinal logistic regressions were used to test the association between socio-demographic factors and ICT use and perception.

Results: Of the 165 participants (mean age = 41 years ± 14.2), 54.5% were male, 37.6% were employed, and most (93.3%) lived in an urban area. Most participants (93%) had access to the internet in past 3 months and a smartphone (89.8%). Age (AOR 0.94, p = 0.06, CI = 0.88–1.00) and marital status (AOR = 0.26, p 0.02, CI = 1.62–253.74) were associated with internet use, while age (AOR = 0.95, p 0.03, CI = 0.9–1.00), marital status (AOR = 3.64, p = 0.05, CI = 1.03–12.90), income (AOR = 4.02, p < 0.01, CI = 1.69–9.54), employment status (AOR = 0.16, p < 0.01, CI = 0.06–0.44), and living with HIV (AOR = 5.41, p < 0.01, CI = 1.39–21.07) were associated with frequency of internet use. Older participants had lower odds of using a mental health care app (AOR = 0.93, p = 0.02, CI= 0.88–0.99). Those with higher incomes had increased odds of seeking mental health information digitally (AOR = 4.33, p = 0.03, CI = 1.13–7.54).

Conclusion: People living with psychosis do have access to digital technology although pattern of use maybe influenced by sociodemographic factors.

Contribution: This study provides baseline data on digital technology use in Africa.


Keywords

information communication technology; digital technology; severe mental illness; schizophrenia; South Africa.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

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