PhD Scientific Days 2023

Budapest, 22-23 June 2023

Mental Health Sciences IV.

Health Technology and Peer Support Among Digitally Engaged People Living with Homelessness: A Qualitative Analysis

Nóra Radó, Institute of Behavioural Sciences, Semmelweis University, Faculty of Medicine, Budapest, Hungary
Sándor Békási, MD, DocRoom Health Research Program, Health Center, Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta, Budapest, Hungary
Zsuzsa Győrffy, PhD, Institute of Behavioural Sciences, Semmelweis University, Faculty of Medicine, Budapest, Hungary

Text of the abstract

Introduction: Previous research of the Digital Health Research Group at Semmelweis University together with the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta revealed a considerable level of Internet use in the homeless population of Budapest for general (52.9% - 350/662) and for medical purposes 34.6% (229/664), moreover, a digitally engaged group could be identified (19.5%, 129/662).

Aims: As very little is known about the characteristics of digitally engaged people experiencing homelessness in the literature, let alone in Central and Eastern Europe, the aim of the qualitative study was to map out the resources, attitudes, and behavior of digitally engaged homeless individuals to set the ground for potential health policy interventions, enabling better access to health services by strengthening the digital components of the existing health care system.

Methods: Between 18 August 2022 and 27 October 2022, a total of 12 in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted in 4 shelters in Budapest in contact with the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta. Upon first analysis, 2 interviews were excluded. The interviewees were chosen based on purposive sampling. Thematic analysis of the transcripts was conducted.

Results: Preliminary results of the ongoing research revealed that attitudes, recourses, and behavior around the adoption and use of digital tools, and ways of utilization for health-related issues were the main themes. The interviews show that their attitude toward novelties was more open and their aptitude for technologies was greater than that of their peers, they were contact points for digital literacy skill enhancement and digital problem-solving in the homeless shelters.

Conclusions: Digitally engaged homeless individuals might be appropriate mediators between their peers and any comprehensive digital health program, e.g. as tutors to upskill homeless populations - as digitally engaged individuals have their trust, recognize the benefits of digital technology, and are able to provide meaningful help in technology- and usage-related issues. Results show that digital health services could have great promise in community shelters for managing and preventing health issues, and digitally engaged individuals might be key to their success.

Funding: OTKA -FK 134372
Semmelweis University, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Behavioural Sciences
Dr. Győrffy Zsuzsa
Oral presentation