Social connectedness and mobile phone use among refugee women in Australia. Academic Article uri icon


  • The aim of this research was to inform the development of mobile phone-assisted health promotion programmes that support social connectedness among refuge women to enhance their mental, physical and social health. For refugees, relationship development during the early stages of resettlement is often difficult. Enhancing personal skills, and resources, can enhance relationships that provide social support. It can also contribute to the development of social relationships in communities and thence acculturation. Communication technologies can assist refugees, if their particular needs and capacities are taken into account. This paper reports a study of refugee women's experience of an intervention based on principles of empowerment and using peer support training and the provision of free mobile phones, and free calls, for at least 1 year. Potential participants were invited by the Afghan, Burmese and Sudanese community leaders to an information session, where the study was explained and invitations to participate extended. A snowball sampling technique was also used, where the first group of participants invited people they had relationships with to join the programme. One hundred and eleven participants were recruited from the three groups. All were from refugee backgrounds. Data collection consisted of: a pre- and post-intervention questionnaire; a log of outgoing phone calls; and in-depth interviews with a subgroup of the study population. The call logs described the patterns of interpersonal relationships facilitated by the mobile phones. In the interviews, characteristics of interpersonal social support, and relationships with heritage and host communities, were described. The quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics and the qualitative data using thematic analysis. By describing the conditions under which mobile phone technology can enhance interpersonal and community connectedness, we strengthen the evidence base for the use of mobile phone technology in health promotion programmes with refugee groups.

publication date

  • 2015