Use of mobile phones for rehabilitative services among prosthetics users in rural Acholi sub-region of northern Uganda: findings from a qualitative study

Article Authors: Walter Onen Yagos, Geoffrey Tabo Olok, Emmanuel Ben Moro, Jonathan Huck and Mahesh Nirmalan


Background: Digital technologies such as mobile phones have shown potential as vital tools for use in healthcare and related services. However, little has been done to explore its use for prosthetics rehabilitative services, especially in the Acholi sub-region of northern Uganda. We address this gap by exploring ownership of the mobile phone, knowledge of the use of mobile phone applications, use of mobile phones for prosthetics rehabilitative services and challenges faced in using the mobile phones.
Methods: A case study design was used. We conducted semi-structured one-on-one interviews with 16 prosthetics users spread in the four districts of Nwoya, Amuru, Omoro, and Gulu of the Acholi sub-region of northern Uganda. We transcribed the data verbatim and explored the contents thematically to derive themes.
Results: More prosthetics users (63%) owned mobile phones compared to those without (37%). Many who owned and use mobile phones are knowledgeable about applications for calls and messaging (47%). Some prosthetics users are knowledgeable in mobile money applications (21%), call applications only (16%) and, others were able to use the internet (16%). Many of the prosthetics users in this study use mobile phones to seek information, mainly relating to the management of prosthetics and treatment of diseases. Many participants were positive about the benefits of the use of mobile phones for prosthetics rehabilitation and related services. Common challenges affecting the use of mobile phones include the expensive price of airtime, few places for charging mobile phones, lack of electricity and inadequate skills to operate a mobile phone.
Conclusion: The use of mobile phones can break down barriers created by distance and allow effective communication linkages between prosthetics users and rehabilitation services. Our results suggest that some prosthetics users owned mobile phones and used them to seek information relating to prosthetics rehabilitation services. We believe that promoting the use of the mobile phone for prosthetic rehabilitative services among prosthetics users is necessary and should be considered for practical and policy discussion relating to its use for prosthetics rehabilitation in rural areas.

Bibliographical metadata

Journal BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making
Volume 22
Issue No. 263
DOI 10.1186/s12911-022-02008-z
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