Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Education

Supervisor

Dr. Immaculate Namukasa

Abstract

The use of wireless, mobile, and handheld digital devices is growing in every sector, including education and health. The increase in mobile (handheld) phone usage has gradually drawn most healthcare practitioners’ and patients’ attention to its capability as a promoter of health education. It has helped with reduction in social and economic impact of preventive and curative and unexplained non-curable illnesses, especially among rural communities in sub-Saharan African countries such as Ghana.

Activity theory—an object-driven activity— was employed as the conceptual framework to answer the following research questions: What views do people have about information that relates to their health? What are the existing media used for obtaining information related to their health? What are the types of health-related activities that people perform on and with their mobile phones? What are the factors that influence employing a mobile phone in activities related to their health? And, what are some of the impacts of employing the device for activities related to their health in remote and isolated communities in sub-Saharan Africa? To help find responses to these questions, the study utilizes sequential mixed-methods approaches to sample 92 participants’ views about the role and potential of mobile phones to promote health literacy and access to information about health in order to improve the healthcare delivery system among people living in rural communities.

Findings from the study show that health-related activities performed on and with mobile phones include: (i) inquiring about health concerns from friends, family, or healthcare personnel; (ii) practising teleconsultation, and telehealth with health helplines that address specific health issues such as pregnancy and cholera outbreak; (iii) clarifying any health symptom before travelling to healthcare centres; and (iv) scrutinizing counterfeit medications entering the country. Implementation of mobile phones in mobile health (mHealth) is revealed to be influenced by demographic and socio-economic status, as well as cultural practices and traditional beliefs in accessing and seeking medical assistance.

Findings from this research add to literature on ways of addressing health inequities in remote communities through conducting capacity-building projects. Also, the findings contribute to educators’ understanding in identifying various forms of learning, seeking information, and pedagogies for which activity theory is particularly appropriate. Further, the results assist development agencies and policy-makers’ understanding on ways of promoting adult education and means of addressing issues related to patients’ privacy and confidentiality.


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