The role of culture in mobile application adoption amongst diabetes patients in previously disadvantaged communities in the Western Cape
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Introduction: Diabetes mellitus is a global health problem with a high mortality rate. Self-management is an essential part of diabetes management and it includes self-care behaviour tasks such as healthy eating, being active and taking prescribed medication. In the current digital age, the use of technology for self- management of the disease is an important consideration. As a first step towards this, individuals have to first accept and use the technology. However, the literature indicates low levels of technology use amongst diabetic patients in environments with low socio- economic indicators and amongst minority groups. Previous studies suggest that there are many factors that influence technology acceptance such as economic, social and cultural factors. Mobile health (m-health) received recognition in healthcare literature in recent years and are known for delivering effective and efficient interventions to patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes. An investigation into m-health acceptance for diabetes management is vital as it impacts the achievement of development goals, including the United Nations’ SDG 3. This research posits that the culture of patients is a possible reason for the low acceptance and use of technology. Research based on the proliferation of culture as a determinant for diabetes self-management at an individual level is limited, especially in the South African context. The main research question pursued in the study reported in this thesis is How does culture influence m-health acceptance of diabetic patients in disadvantaged communities? Research design and methodology: Using an interpretivist paradigm, a case study research design provided the basis to collect data from 20 diabetes patients in Mitchells Plain and Strandfontein. The theoretical model that was used as a lens for investigation comprised a juxtaposition of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions and Unified- Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology 2 (UTAUT2). The analysis of the qualitative data was undertaken with Atlas Ti, using a thematic content analysis process. Results: Eight themes emerged from the data and key results of the study indicate that opinions towards medical practitioners, which reflects power distance has a positive impact on users and non-users. Diabetic patients comply with the opinions of their doctors as they fear disagreeing with them. As such, this may result in having a positive influence on a participant’s ability to adopt and use mobile applications. Caregiver influence, which reflects femininity, has a negative influence on users as a result of diabetic patients being responsible for taking care of their family and others are both home carers and providers for their families. This indicates that patients are more concerned with the quality of their life and family than with the adoption mobile applications. Future work: It is recommended that research should be conducted in other areas in the Western Cape, specifically in the Cape flats to see whether the same sorts of results will be achieved in different communities. This could help policymakers and application developers tailor mobile applications for this target population.