Background: In General, emergency department (ED) personnel are expert in providing episodic care and are usually too busy to attend to patients' need for preventive care. This is the case in the area of administering vaccines particularly when the vaccine protocol requires multiple injections over several months. However, ED personnel recognize the importance of patients receiving preventive services. A possible way for ED personnel to direct patients to prevention services is to use smartphone apps. A pilot study was designed to explore the possibility of using an app to foster the receipt of human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine.
Methods: Women who met the inclusion criteria of (1) Self-identified as African-American, (2) owned a smartphone, and (3) had been cleared for discharge from the ED were recruited to a study to determine their willingness to use a smartphone app with regard to the receipt of the HPV vaccine. They completed a 30 item questionnaire that included questions about demographics, smartphone based questions, HPV knowledge based questions and perception based variables dealing with the acceptability of HPV.
Results: Nine of the 19 respondents were willing to participate in a study that would use a smartphone app dealing with HPV. Willingness to participate was significantly related to: 1) participants having health insurance and 2) comfort with HPV messages on a personal phone 3) perceived availability of the HPV vaccine and 4) comfort with an STI smartphone app on their mobile phones.
Conclusions: While there is a need for additional research in this area, this pilot study suggest the potential for using smartphones to link ED patients to preventive services. If smartphones lead to additional uptake of vaccines, there is the potential of improving the public's health in other areas of vaccine preventable diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Hepatitis A and B, and influenza vaccines.
Keywords: Emergency department, preventive services, vaccines, human papilloma virus