Consumer attitudes and perceptions on mhealth privacy and security: Findings from a mixed-methods study

Audie A. Atienza, Christina Zarcadoolas, Wendy Vaughon, Penelope Hughes, Vaishali Patel, Wen Ying Sylvia Chou, Joy Pritts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


This study examined consumers attitudes and perceptions regarding mobile health (mHealth) technology use in health care. Twenty-four focus groups with 256 participants were conducted in 5 geographically diverse locations. Participants were also diverse in age, education, race/ethnicity, gender, and rural versus urban settings. Several key themes emerged from the focus groups. Findings suggest that consumer attitudes regarding mHealth privacy/security are highly contextualized, with concerns depending on the type of information being communicated, where and when the information is being accessed, who is accessing or seeing the information, and for what reasons. Consumers frequently considered the tradeoffs between the privacy/security of using mHealth technologies and the potential benefits. Having control over mHealth privacy/security features and trust in providers were important issues for consumers. Overall, this study found significant diversity in attitudes regarding mHealth privacy/security both within and between traditional demographic groups. Thus, to address consumers concerns regarding mHealth privacy and security, a one-size-fits-all approach may not be adequate. Health care providers and technology developers should consider tailoring mHealth technology according to how various types of information are communicated in the health care setting, as well as according to the comfort, skills, and concerns individuals may have with mHealth technology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)673-679
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Issue number6
StatePublished - 3 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes


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