Using Mobile Technology to Self-Manage HIV Symptoms

Key Finding and Impact:

mHealth technologies can decrease HIV-related symptoms in medically underserved populations.

HIV has evolved from an acute illness to a chronic disease that requires chronic disease management.

People with HIV are living longer due to the availability of improved treatments, including medication regimes that may have symptoms and side effects. Managing these symptoms is crucial for maintaining quality of life; however, overburdened providers often have limited time to optimally manage symptoms. Racial and ethnic minorities, as well as those of low socioeconomic status, often have less access to health information and consequently experience symptoms at higher rates than other people with HIV.

Developing a health IT tool that is useful and helpful to underserved populations.

“This is an opportunity to be able to disseminate this health information to communities that are the most at risk for not being able to access their health information, are least likely to self-manage their health, and have the poorest health outcomes.”
- Dr. Rebecca Schnall

Recognizing the importance of symptom management in at-risk populations, Dr. Rebecca Schnall and her Columbia University-based research team developed an mHealth app, called the mobile Video Information Provider (mVIP), with evidence-based self-care strategies that guide people with HIV in self-managing their HIV-related symptoms. Tested using a rigorous user-centered design process, Dr. Schnall’s randomized pilot study is one of the first to examine mobile app use within a population of individuals of low income and largely racial and ethnic minorities.

mVIP users reported a decrease in HIV-related symptoms.

mVIP use was associated with an improvement in symptoms, high user satisfaction, and a self-reported increase in medication adherence. Persons who had access to mVIP’s care strategies reported less anxiety, depression, fevers, neuropathy, and weight loss than persons who did not have access to the care strategies. Technologies such as mVIP could result in increased quality of life, reduced administrative burden, and reduced health care costs due to decreased visit complexity and overall fewer visits. While Dr. Schnall recommends a larger and longer study be conducted of this app, she believes the current findings could guide future work in the application of the app to other chronic care diseases.

Research Details