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Acceptability of mental health apps for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians : a qualitative study

Povey, Josie Helen (2015). Acceptability of mental health apps for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians : a qualitative study. Master of Public Health Thesis, Charles Darwin University.

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Author Povey, Josie Helen
Title Acceptability of mental health apps for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians : a qualitative study
Institution Charles Darwin University
Publication Date 2015
Thesis Type Master of Public Health
Subjects 1117 - Public Health and Health Services
Abstract Background: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians experience high rates of mental illness and psychological distress compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts. Electronic mental health (e-mental health) tools offer an opportunity for accessible, effective and acceptable treatment. The AIMhi Stay Strong App and the ibobbly suicide prevention App are treatment tools designed to combat the disproportionately high levels of mental illness and stress experienced within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Objective: This study aimed to explore Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members’ experiences of using two culturally responsive e-mental health apps and identify factors which influence the acceptability of these approaches.

Methods: Using qualitative methods aligned with a phenomenological approach we explored the acceptability of two culturally responsive e-mental health apps through a series of three, three-hour focus groups with nine Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members. Thematic analysis was conducted and co-researcher and member checking were used to verify findings.

Results: Findings suggest strong support for the concept of e-mental health apps and optimism for their potential. Factors that influence acceptability related to three key themes: personal factors, such as motivation, severity and awareness of illness, technological competence and literacy and language differences; environmental factors, such as community awareness, stigma and availability of support; and app characteristics, such as ease of use, content, graphics, access and security and information sharing. Specific adaptions, such as local production, culturally relevant content and graphics, a purposeful journey, clear navigation, meaningful language, options to assist people with language differences, offline use and password protection may aid uptake.

Conclusions: When designed to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, e-mental health tools add an important element to public health approaches to improving the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


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