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Mobile Phone Assessment in Egocentric Networks: A Pilot Study on Gay Men and Their Peers.

Abstract

Mobile phone-based data collection encompasses the richness of social network research. Both individual-level and network-level measures can be recorded. For example, health-related behaviors can be reported via mobile assessment. Social interactions can be assessed by phone-log data. Yet the potential of mobile phone data collection has largely been untapped. This is especially true of egocentric studies in public health settings where mobile phones can enhance both data collection and intervention delivery, e.g. mobile users can video chat with counselors. This is due in part to privacy issues and other barriers that are more difficult to address outside of academic settings where most mobile research to date has taken place. In this article, we aim to inform a broader discussion on mobile research. In particular, benefits and challenges to mobile phone-based data collection are highlighted through our mobile phone-based pilot study that was conducted on egocentric networks of 12 gay men (n = 44 total participants). HIV-transmission and general health behaviors were reported through a mobile phone-based daily assessment that was administered through study participants' own mobile phones. Phone log information was collected from gay men with Android phones. Benefits and challenges to mobile implementation are discussed, along with the application of multi-level models to the type of longitudinal egocentric data that we collected.

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