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Title: 'It helps me stay healthy!' : exploring the role of mHealth (mobile technologies) in facilitating healthy lifestyle choices in women with a mild intellectual disability
Author: O' Brien, Ailish
ISNI:       0000 0004 7425 6893
Awarding Body: University of the West of England
Current Institution: University of the West of England, Bristol
Date of Award: 2018
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Research findings indicate that in comparison with the general population, people with an intellectual disability experience higher rates of chronic health problems. Also, females with a mild intellectual disability and living independently or with family are more likely to be obese than others with intellectual disabilities. Mobile technology use has become a significant factor in engaging people in, and marketing, healthy lifestyle programmes. Research findings also indicate that women more than men are likely to use smartphones and health apps as part of a healthy lifestyle. The aims of this research were to explore if women with an intellectual disability use mobile technologies, how they use them, and if these mobile technologies play a role in facilitating healthy lifestyle choices among these women. Twenty-six female students of a specialist training and support service agreed to participate in this study. Following on from findings in focus group discussions indicating that parents play a significant role in daughters’ lives, parents of participants were invited to participate. Five parents agreed to attend. Parents of non-participants were also invited to participate and two parents agreed but only one was able to attend for interview. Findings from thematic analysis of the data based on the COM-B model of behaviour indicated that students are knowledgeable about mobile technology and are aware of and sometimes use apps and sites that are useful in making healthy lifestyle choices. Students were vocal about health issues that matter to them and about how these issues impact on health behaviours. The role of parents as protectors/advisors was also highlighted as significant in influencing students’ opportunities and choice. What is unique about this study is that it adds participants’ experiences and opinions on how useful mobile technologies are, or can be, in facilitating healthy lifestyle choices among females with an intellectual disability. Recommendations based on these findings were made with respect to further exploring the role of mobile technologies in areas such as health promotion, in education and training, and of parents as protectors/advisors in the lives of daughters’ with an intellectual disability. The following recommendations were made: A public health intervention be put in place through the Health Research Board (an agency supporting and funding health research under the aegis of the Department of Health in Ireland) to encourage researchers develop user-centred mobile health apps to support people with an intellectual disability in making healthy lifestyle choices. That further exploration is undertaken of the parent/daughter relationship with an emphasis on how the role of parent as protector/advisor impacts on daughters’ health behaviours. That further research is undertaken on the role of mobile technologies in supporting progression in education and training for students with an intellectual disability, with an emphasis on the area of self-determination.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Health Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available