Demographic and Psychosocial Correlates of Mobile Phone Ownership and Usage among Youth Living in the Slums of Kampala, Uganda
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Demographic and Psychosocial Correlates of Mobile Phone Ownership and Usage among Youth Living in the Slums of Kampala, Uganda

  • Author(s): Swahn, Monica H
  • Braunstein, Sarah
  • Kasirye, Rogers
  • et al.
Abstract

Introduction: The use of mobile phones and other technology for improving health through research and practice is growing quickly, in particular in areas with difficult to reach population or where the research infrastructure is less developed. In Sub-Saharan Africa, there appears to be a dramatic increase in mobile phone ownership and new initiatives that capitalize on this technology to support health promotion campaigns to change behavior and to increase health literacy.  However, the extent to which difficult to reach youth in the slums of Kampala may own and use mobile phones has not been reported despite the burden of injuries, substance use, and HIV that they face. The purpose of this study is to determine the prevalence and correlates of mobile phone ownership and use in this high-risk population.

Methods: This study of youth was conducted in May and June of 2011 to quantify and describe high-risk behaviors and exposures in a convenience sample of urban youth (N=457) living on the streets or in the slums, 14-24 years of age, who were participating in a Uganda Youth Development Link drop-in center for disadvantaged street youth.  Chi-square analyses were computed to determine associations between mobile phone ownership and usage and demographic and psychosocial correlates.

Results: Overall, 46.9% of youth reported owning a mobile phone and ownership did not vary by sex, but was more common among youth older than 18 years of age. Mobile phone ownership was also more common among those who reported taking care of themselves at night, who reported current drug use and who reported trading sex for money, food or other things.

 

Conclusion: The findings indicate that research using mobile phones may be both feasible and desirable with hard to reach population living in the slums and who use drugs or who are engaged in commercial sex.  Moreover, this technology may also be suitable for injury specific research given that there were few differences with respect to injury-related variables in mobile phone ownership and usage.

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