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JMIR mHealth and uHealth

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Transgender women -- Healthcare, HIV -- research


Background: HIV severely impacts the transgender communities in the United States, and transgender women have the highest HIV incidence rates among any identified risk group. Guided by formative research with transgender women and by an expert advisory panel of transgender women, we designed a prototype mobile app to promote HIV prevention among transgender women.

Objective: This study aimed to develop and test the usability and acceptability of the prototype Trans Women Connected mobile app.

Methods: We engaged in a 3-phase prototype development process. After conducting formative research about the health needs of this population, we outlined a theory-based app framework and developed three prototype activities (ie, a vision board, a pre-exposure prophylaxis [PrEP] education activity, and an interactive map). We then tested the usability and acceptability of the mobile app and activities with 16 transgender women using pre- and posttests, think-aloud protocols, and open-ended questions.

Results: Participants reported high acceptability for the mobile app; the mean rating across all usability and likability questions was 5.9 out of 7. Service utilization intention, goal setting, and social support increased at posttest compared with pretest. Increases in self-efficacy in finding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer–friendly services; intention to seek online social support; and PrEP knowledge were statistically significant. Participants described the app as attractive and useful and perceived all three activities positively.

Conclusions: This study describes the development and usability and acceptability evaluation of a prototype mobile app designed for and with transgender women for HIV prevention. The usability testing findings provided important insights toward refining and the further development of the Trans Women Connected mobile app. The results suggest that a mobile health intervention can support positive changes. The remaining development and efficacy randomized trial of the Trans Women Connected mobile app is currently underway.


© Christina J Sun, Kirsten M Anderson, Tamara Kuhn, Liat Mayer, Charles H Klein.

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