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Currently submitted to: JMIR mHealth and uHealth

Date Submitted: Apr 24, 2020
Open Peer Review Period: Apr 24, 2020 - Jun 19, 2020
(currently open for review)

Warning: This is an author submission that is not peer-reviewed or edited. Preprints - unless they show as "accepted" - should not be relied on to guide clinical practice or health-related behavior and should not be reported in news media as established information.

Privacy Concern of Health Information Disclosure in mHealth: The Moderate Effect of Social Support

  • Yuanyuan Dang; 
  • Shanshan Guo; 
  • Xitong Guo; 



The mobile health (mHealth) provides a new opportunity for patients’ disease prediction and health self-management. At the same time, privacy problems in mHealth have brought forth significant attention concerning patients' online health information disclosure and hindered mHealth development.


Privacy calculus theory (PCT) has been widely used to understand personal information disclosure behaviors with the basic assumption of a national and linear decision-making process. However, people’s cognitive behavior processes are complex and mutual. In attempting to close this knowledge gap, we further optimize the information disclosure model of patients based on PCT by identifying the mutual relationship between costs (privacy concerns) and benefits. Social support, which has been proved to be a distinct and significant disclosure benefit of mHealth, was chosen to be the representative benefit of information disclosure in mHealth.


From an individual perspective, a structural equation model with privacy concerns, health information disclosure intention in mHealth, and social support from mHealth has been examined.


253 randomly selected participants provided validated questionnaire. The result indicated that perceived health information sensitivity positively enhances the privacy concern (0.505, p<0.01), and higher privacy concern levels will decrease the health information disclosure intention (-0.338, p<0.01). Various aspects of individual characters influence perceived health information sensitivity in different ways. The informational support has a negatively moderate on reduce the positive effect between perceived health information sensitivity and privacy concerns (-0.171, p<0.1) and will decrease the negative effect between privacy concerns and health information disclosure intention(-0.105, p<0.1). However, emotional support has no directly moderate effect on both privacy concerns and health information disclosure intention.


The results indicate that social support can be regarded as a disutility reducer, that is, on the one hand, it reduces the privacy concerns of patients; on the other hand, it also reduces the negative impact of privacy concerns on information disclosure intention. Moreover, the moderate effect of social support is partially supported. Informational support, one demission of social support, is significant, while the other demission, emotional support, is not significant in mHealth. Furthermore, the results are different among patients with different individual characteristics. This study also provides specific theoretical and practical implications to enhance the development of mHealth.


Please cite as:

Dang Y, Guo S, Guo X

Privacy Concern of Health Information Disclosure in mHealth: The Moderate Effect of Social Support

JMIR Preprints. 24/04/2020:19594

DOI: 10.2196/preprints.19594


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