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

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Arlene Smaldone *
Melissa S. Stockwell
Jennel C. Osborne
Yamnia Cortes
ElShadey Bekele
Nancy S. Green
(*) Corresponding Author:
Arlene Smaldone |


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, FacebookTM/MySpaceTM 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 FacebookTM/MySpaceTM (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.

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