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Certified Peer Specialists’ Perspective of the Barriers and Facilitators to Mobile Health Engagement


Fortuna KL, Muralidharan A, Goldstein CM, et al.


To advance current knowledge, researchers surveyed certified peer specialists (PS) with serious mental illness (SMI) for their perceptions of the barriers to and facilitators of mobile health (mHealth) engagement among adults with SMI.


Researchers recruited adult certified PS with SMI (n = 267) through web, email, and print newsletter ads to participate in a 20-minute online survey of perspectives on barriers to and facilitators of mHealth engagement among adults with SMI. The survey, developed with input from other certified PS, comprised 12 quantitative questions on difficulties of using smartphones and tablets and three open-ended qualitative questions on app and tablet use and motivators of use. Researchers conducted statistical analysis of quantitative survey data and thematic analysis of open-ended responses from participants who completed the full survey (n = 74, representing 18 states).

  • The most frequently reported perceived barrier to mHealth engagement was the unaffordability of a smartphone and a data plan.
  • Certified PS expressed the concern that, unless designed appropriately, mHealth interventions may isolate adult users with SMI who are already at risk of social isolation.
  • Supplementing mHealth interventions with support from certified PS may improve engagement among adult users with SMI, a previously unidentified facilitator.
  • Certified PS appeared to prefer using tablets over smartphones for mHealth interventions.
  • To avoid exacerbating social isolation and loneliness among adults with SMI, mHealth interventions may better serve as an augment to traditional mental health services.
  • Integrating perspectives of certified PS into mHealth development may promote initial and sustained mHealth engagement among adult endusers with SMI.
  • Future research could use implementation science frameworks to examine whether these perceived barriers to and facilitators of mHealth engagement correlate with and/or predict mHealth engagement among adults with SMI.
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Fortuna K, Muralidharan A, Goldstein C, et al. Certified peer specialists’ perspective of the barriers and facilitators to mobile health engagement. 5: 318–323. 27 April 2020. doi: 10.1007/s41347-020-00138-7