Access to technology, internet usage, and online health information-seeking behaviors in a racially diverse, lower-income population

Omolola E. Adepoju, Maya Singh, Mary Tipton, Gerard Peperone, Marlen Trujillo, Chinedum Ojinnaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: This study examined access to technology, internet usage, and online health information-seeking behaviors, in a racially diverse, lower-income population. Methods: Data were obtained via a cross-sectional survey of low-income communities in Houston, Los Angeles, and New York between April and August 2023. Binary responses to the following online health information-seeking behaviors, internet and technology access, were examined: using the internet to (i) understand a medical diagnosis, (ii) fill a prescription, (iii) schedule a healthcare appointment, (iv) email communication with a healthcare provider, and (v) access electronic health records and medical notes. Results: 41% of survey respondents identified as non-Hispanic Black individuals, 33% as non-Hispanic White individuals, and 22% as Hispanic individuals. 69% reported a pre-tax annual household income of less than $35,000. 97% reported ownership/access to a smart device; 97% reported access to reliable internet. In the past year, only 59% reported using the internet to better understand their medical diagnosis, 36% reported filling a prescription online, 47% scheduled a medical appointment online, 47% viewed electronic health records online, and 56% emailed healthcare providers. Female sex, higher incomes, and having at least a bachelor’s degree were significantly associated with all five online health information-seeking attributes. Conclusion: Despite high technology adoption rates, we observed suboptimal online health information-seeking behaviors. This underutilization has potential adverse implications for healthcare access and use given the documented advantage of HIT. Efforts to increase health information-seeking behaviors should explore the identification of HIT barriers, and patient education to increase familiarity and usage in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1328544
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Volume12
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

Keywords

  • health disparities
  • internet use
  • perception
  • technology
  • trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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