Evaluating the opportunity for technology use in bariatric surgery dietetic care and health services: A mixed methods study

Charlene Wright, member of Connected Health Career Development Program, presented at the Dietitians Australia 2021 Conference the project below:

Authors: Charlene Wright (CRE), Jaimon Kelly (CRE), Kyra Hamilton, Rebecca Healy, Jane Musial, Katrina Campbell (CRE)

Summary: We aimed to gain insight into barriers to attending appointments in-person, preferred health information delivery methods, current technology use, and acceptability of mHealth. Finding patients are accepting of mHealth to increase access to ongoing support and overcome barriers. Patients expressed need for more post-operative psychosocial support and help navigating appropriate technology. There is an opportunity for technology use in bariatrics surgery dietetic care and health services.

Abstract
Background: Mobile health (mHealth) can assist to provide routine care, monitoring, and support to individuals’ requiring dietetic services. Aims: In adults electing bariatric surgery, we aimed to gain insight into barriers to attending appointments in-person, preferred health information delivery methods, current technology use, and acceptability of mHealth. Methods: This mixed methods study recruited participants from a tertiary hospital via survey (n=102) and interview (n=15). Quantitative analysis was conducted using SPSS and qualitative, inductive content analysis in NVivo. Results: One-third of participants (n=38, 37%) identified barriers to attending in-person appointments including parking (n=17, 45%), travel time (n=16, 42%), and taking time off work (n=15, 40%). Participants were willing to use email (n=92, 90%), text messages (n=87, 83%), and phone calls (n=85, 83%) to engage with health providers. Themes identified were (i) Attributing success to dietitians and resources (ii) Motivated and able to access digital health (iii) Turning to online health communities (iv) Seeing a place for mHealth in service delivery, and (v) Future vision for care delivery. Majority managed post-operative dietary changes with in-person support and dietitians were highly valued by patients. Challenges related to the need for more post-operative psychosocial support. Along with wanting help navigating mobile applications and online health communities. Conclusion: Patients are accepting of mHealth to increase access to ongoing support and overcome barriers. Patients expressed need for more post-operative psychosocial support and help navigating appropriate technology. There is an opportunity for technology use in bariatrics surgery dietetic care and health services

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