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


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
StatePublished - 2024


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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