People experiencing homelessness (PEH) may be at increased risk for negative physical and mental health outcomes in the context of community spread of COVID-19. Research into the impacts of COVID-19 on this vulnerable population can be affected by inaccessibility and poor engagement resulting in minimal representation in population-based survey data. The increased use of mobile phone technology (mHealth) to provide medical and psychiatric care during the COVID-19 pandemic could provide an effective platform for gathering data from this hard-to-reach group. This paper examines feasibility, via review of the barriers and facilitators, of using a mobile phone intervention to administer a series of surveys. Data collected via mHealth includes health behaviors and health awareness, access to services, and mental health symptoms in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic among a sample of 30 PEH. At the end of the six month study, 11 (36.7%) participants completed the full study protocol while 19 (63.3%) partially completed the study. There was a significant difference in completion rates based on whether participants were unsheltered-homeless or sheltered-homeless. The study was rated highly by fully compliant participants in measures of acceptability and usability. Applying principles learned in this pilot study to develop feasible, usable and acceptable means of data gathering through the use of mHealth, can have wider ramifications outside of COVID-19.
Thomas, Tina; Walia, Namrata; Presnall, Landon; Shei, Jasper; and Hamilton, Jane Elizabeth
"Feasibility of Cell Phone Surveys in People with Mental Illness Experiencing Homelessness During COVID-19,"
Journal of Digital Psychiatry: Vol. 1:
1, Article 2.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.library.tmc.edu/jdigipsych/vol1/iss1/2
This study was performed in line with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki. Approval was granted by the Ethics Committee of the University of Texas Health Science Center Houston (UTHealth) Institutional Review Board (IRB#: HSC-MS-20-0776, Date: 08.17.2020).
Identifying details (names, dates of birth, identity numbers, biometrical characteristics such as facial features, fingerprint, writing style, voice pattern, DNA or other distinguishing characteristic and other protected health information of the participants are not included in the paper.
1. Teresa Pigott - has extensive publication and research experience 2. Ron Acierno - has extensive experience in mHealth 3. Marsal Sanches - has extensive research experience
Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest
Final statement of conflict of interest
All authors certify that they have no affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest or non-financial interest in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.