Can Mobile Health Improve Depression Treatment Access and Adherence Among Rural Indian Women? A Qualitative Study

Authors : Bhat A, Goud BR, Pradeep JR, Jayaram G, Radhakrishnan R, Srinivasan K

Publication Year : 2020

Abstract :

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is associated with low rates of treatment and medication non-adherence, more so in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Mobile mental health (mHealth) interventions offer promise as a tool to address these problems. However, the feasibility and acceptability of mHealth interventions among rural women in LMICs is unknown. We examined barriers to accessing mental health treatment, reasons for non-adherence, and attitudes towards mHealth solutions among women with MDD in rural south India. Six focus groups were conducted among women with MDD (n = 69) who had been in treatment at a rural community health center. The discussion was transcribed and analyzed using a modified grounded-theory approach. Women perceived limited autonomy within their family structure, and experienced financial and systemic barriers as contributing to poor treatment access and non-adherence. Illiteracy, limited personal access to mobile phones, and preference for in-person clinical consultation were identified as barriers to use of mHealth. This is the first qualitative study, to our knowledge, that examines attitude towards mHealth among women with MDD in a rural setting in India. The study identified contextual barriers that will be important to address before implementing mHealth interventions.