Technology Use and Ownership Among African American Adults with Sickle Cell Disease


Technology is becoming more ubiquitous. Although most U.S. households now have a computer with Internet access. There are racial and socioeconomic disparities in technology ownership.
Whites (74%) have computer with broad band connection as compared to African American (62%) and Hispanics (56%) people with annual income <30,000/yr 62% ownership of the computer with internet access and those with >75,000/yr have 98% computer with Internet access but there are disparities in ownership by Race and Socioeconomic Status. 90% whites and 90% African American and 92% Hispanics have cell phones. Based on disparities in socioeconomic Status, people with annual income <30,000/yr. have 84% ownership of the cell phone and those with >75,000/yr. have 98% ownership of cell phones. Although disparities in computer internet access; there are less difference for phone ownership.

Larger social contextual factors, such as social networks and neighborhood factors may influence phone/ Tablet ownership and the number of places where individuals have access to phones/Tablets

Patients with sickle cell disease are predominately African American and from low socioeconomic conditions, thus there may be significant technology ownership disparities with this group. It is not known what computer and mobile ownership is among persons with sickle cell disease.


We sought to determine internet accessibility and mobile phone ownership among persons with sickle cell disease (SCD). A second goal of this study was to know the preferred type of phone/tablet (android/iPhone/windows/other) in this group.

Persons with a confirmed diagnosis of SCD (types: HB SS, HB SC, HB SB+, B ZERO) receiving routine care at a sickle cell clinic were asked to complete a short questionnaire on their technology ownership and preferences. All data was de-identified. We generated frequencies and percentages, by age and gender, for internet access, tablet or phone ownership, phone type and phone preference.

Participants (N = 40) ranged in age from 18 to 50 years old, 57% (23/40) female, all self-report African American and with confirmed diagnosis of sickle cell disease . Almost half of the participants reported not having a computer with Internet access 52% (21/40) but 90% (36/40) of the patients owned a smart phones. Among those with Smart phones, 58% (21/36) had android, 19% (7/36) had iPhone. When asked what type of phone would they prefer to use, most participants with preference given to android phone over iPhone or other types, 12/40 (30%) have android phone.
Interesting point in study is that tablet is not used frequently with only 30% using a tablet,
When looking at age differences in ownership and preference, younger people with SCD tended to have a computer with Internet access at home more frequently than the 35-50 ( 4/7 ,%) and 55+ (3/5, %) age groups (p=.208). All though all aged groups were equally likely to own a SMART phone, younger aged were more likely to own an iPhone than older participants 35+ ; 50.
Although all age groups have computer with internet access but younger age 18-35 have 60% ownership compared to 35-50 (33.3% p =.144) and 55+(37.5% p=.95)
Younger people age 18-34, were more likely to own an android phone than an iPhone (p=.007) but there were no differences in preferences of android vs iPhone. Younger age groups were more likely to know what type of phone they preferred to use than older participants, and prefer android (40%) over iPhone (35%). Older age group, 62.5% (5/8) don’t know about their preference. Compared to younger patients, the 35-50 age group (p=.001) and the >50 age group (p=.003) were more likely to have no idea of their preference.

Although patients did not have internet access via computer, almost all owned smart phones and could access internet using mobile devices. Disparities in internet access, smart phone ownership and preference are narrowing even among those with very low incomes. However, identifying factors that contribute to disparities in access for these groups will be necessary to ensure the efficacy of future technology-based interventions. A unique finding of our study is that smart phones are preferred for internet access, few persons with SCD own tablet computer and among smart phones android phones are preferred over any other phone.

This study will help helping in understanding and creating the internet based intervention easily accessible with any type of phone/tablet for giving cognitive behavioral therapy to sickle cell patients developing early depression, chronic pain.

Page created by Dr. Preeti Malik (MBBS)

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