Telemental Health Applications in Saudi Arabia: An Investigation of Multidimensional Trust Social Stigmatisation and Subjective Norms

Alyami, Fatimah Ahmad
Tan, Felix
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Master of Computer and Information Sciences
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Auckland University of Technology

Background: Telemental health (TMH) is the use of several technologies combined to remotely deliver/receive mental health care services, including therapy and treatment. Despite the promise of TMH applications to respond to situations like the COVID-19 pandemic, research has reported that there are barriers to its adoption in Saudi Arabia. To date, there is limited theory-based empirical evidence available in Saudi Arabia assessing people’s acceptance of and intention to use TMH applications. Purpose: Drawing on the technology acceptance model, the theory of reasoned action, and the literature on multidimensional trust and perceived social stigma, this study aims to investigate the extent to which people’s perceptions of trust, perceived stigma, and subjective norms influence their acceptance of and intentions to use TMH applications to seek professional psychological help. Method: An online survey was administered. Two hundred twenty-two complete responses were collected and analysed using the partial least squares data analysis method. Results: The findings showed that the intention to use TMH applications was influenced by trust, perceived ease of use, and perceived usefulness. Further, although perceived social stigma had a direct negative influence on the perceived ease of use of TMH applications, it showed no influence on the intention to use the applications. Subjective norms has no influence on acceptance and intention to use. Moreover, trust in technology had the strongest influence on overall trust in TMH applications. Conclusion: The outcomes of this study provide valuable information about factors that may hinder or facilitate acceptance of and intention to use TMH applications in Saudi Arabia, which can be used to assist future developments of TMH applications. Research findings also confirm the applicability of the technology acceptance model with additional variables for identifying acceptance of TMH applications among the adult Saudi population. The study also highlights the necessity of increasing awareness about mental health and the benefits of TMH applications.

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