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Older adults’ readiness to engage with eHealth patient education and self-care resources: a cross-sectional survey

This study examined access to digital technologies, skills and experience, and preferences for using web-based and other digital technologies to obtain health information and advice among older adults in a large health plan. A primary aim was to assess the extent to which digital divides by race/ethnicity and age group might affect the ability of a large percentage of seniors, and especially those in vulnerable groups, to engage with online health information and advice modalities (eHIA) and mobile health (mHealth) monitoring tools. A mailed survey was conducted with age-sex stratified random samples of English-speaking non-Hispanic white, African-American/black (black), Hispanic/Latino (Latino), Filipino-American (Filipino), and Chinese-American (Chinese) Kaiser Permanente Northern California members who were aged 65-79 years. Respondent data were weighted to the study population for the cross-sectional analyses. Older seniors and black, Latino, and Filipino seniors have less access to digital tools, less experience performing a variety of online tasks, and are less likely to believe that they would be capable of going online for health information and advice compared to younger and white Non-Hispanic seniors. Consequently, they are also less likely to be interested in using eHIA modalities. The same subgroups of seniors that have previously been shown to have higher prevalence of chronic conditions and greater difficulties with healthcare access are also less likely to adopt use of eHIA and mHealth monitoring technologies. At the patient population level, this digital divide is important to take into account when planning health information and chronic disease management programs. At the individual patient level, to provide good patient-centered care, it is important for providers to assess rather than assume digital access, eHealth skills, and preferences prior to recommending use of web-based resources and mHealth tools.

Authors: Gordon NP; Hornbrook MC

BMC Health Serv Res. 2018 03 27;18(1):220. Epub 2018-03-27.

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