Digital Technology Use Among Individuals with Schizophrenia: Results of an Online Survey.


Gay K, Torous J, Joseph A, Pandya A, Duckworth K. Digital Technology Use Among Individuals with Schizophrenia: Results of an Online Survey. JMIR Ment Health 2016;3(2):e15.

Date Published:



BACKGROUND: Despite growing interest in the use of digital technology by individuals with schizophrenia, little is known about how these individual relate to, own, and use technology in their daily life and in the context of their symptoms. OBJECTIVE: The goal of this study is to better characterize technology use in those with schizophrenia. METHODS: A Web-based survey of individuals' use of and attitudes toward technology for those 18 years and older self-identifying as having schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or schizophrenia spectrum disorders was conducted. Consumer input was sought in the design of the survey. RESULTS: In total, 457 individuals responded to this Web-based survey. Ninety percent owned more than one device (personal computer, landline telephone, tablet, public computer, mobile phone without applications or Internet, or smartphone), with many reporting high utilization of multiple devices, and 61% having 2 devices. The respondents reported that Web-based technology helped with support from family and friends, as well as in gathering information. Many respondents used Web-based technology to help identify coping strategies (24% very often or often) including music to help block or manage voices (42%), while others used technology to set alarms/reminders for medication management (28%). Younger respondents in particular anticipated the role of technology growing over time with respect to their recovery. CONCLUSIONS: Survey respondents reported that technology access was common, with utilization involving coping, reminders for medications and appointments, and connection. Overall, attitudes were largely positive. Overuse was a concern for 30% of respondents. The study is limited in its generalizability as the population was highly engaged in mental health treatment (87%), self-identified as living with the disorder, and had awareness of their illness. This survey demonstrates high engagement for a subset of technology-oriented individuals living with schizophrenia. It is not known what percent of individuals with schizophrenia are represented by these technology-oriented survey respondents.