Digital interventions, such as smartphone applications (apps), are becoming an increasingly common way to support medication adherence and self-management in chronic conditions. It is important to investigate how patients feel about and engage with these technologies. The aim of this study was to explore patients’ perspectives on smartphone apps to improve medication adherence in hypertension.
This was a qualitative study based in the West of Ireland. Twenty-four patients with hypertension were purposively sampled and engaged in focus groups. Thematic analysis on the data was carried out.
Participants ranged in age from 50 to 83 years (M=65 years) with an equal split between men and women. Three major themes were identified in relation to patients’ perspectives on smartphone apps to improve medication adherence in hypertension: “development of digital competence,” “rules of engagement,” and “sustainability” of these technologies.
These data showed that patients can identify the benefits of a medication reminder and recognize that self-monitoring their blood pressure could be empowering in terms of their understanding of the condition and interactions with their general practitioners. However, the data also revealed that there are concerns about increasing health-related anxiety and doubts about the sustainability of this technology over time. This suggests that the current patient perspective of smartphone apps might be best characterized by “ambivalence.”
Keywords: qualitative, high blood pressure, digital technology, self-management, adherence, focus groups, thematic analysis