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Int J Med Inform. 2021 Feb 6;149:104411. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2021.104411. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Existing studies have demonstrated that behavioural barriers impede eHealth usage among senior citizens. However, thus far, no analysis of how such barriers affect elderly people with disabilities (PwD) has been conducted. Thus, the study investigates the predictors of eHealth usage among elderly PwD.
METHODS: Using data from a 2018 nationwide disability survey comprising 14,798 respondents in Australia, multivariate logistic regression models are used to predict the relationship between eHealth usage and the various characteristics of respondents, including access to information and communication technologies (ICTs), socioeconomic status, and level of education.
RESULTS: Although most participants (approximately 88%) have access to ICTs, few (only around 9%) have used eHealth services. The results show a number of factors are associated with an increased likelihood of using eHealth services, including higher educational attainment (odds ratio [OR] = 3.12, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.38, 4.24), employment (OR = 1.43, 95% CI: 1.06, 1.94), higher household income (OR = 1.39, 95% CI: 1.00, 1.96), and ICT access (OR = 15.92, 95% CI: 10.51, 27.01). The probability of eHealth use is lower for the oldest-old (OR = 0.35, 95% CI: 0.22, 0.45). In addition, the estimates from interaction effects suggest the effect of ICT penetration on use of eHealth falls by a negligible amount because of resistive attitudinal barriers (OR = 0.01, 95% CI: 0.01, 0.06).
CONCLUSION: Given the challenges of ageing populations and pandemics, such as COVID-19, eHealth services are a vital part of an effective, inclusive, and robust health care system. This study demonstrates the presence of a significant digital divide among elderly PwD and suggests that public and private efforts should be made to increase the availability of ICT infrastructure. Training could also increase inclusion in this regard.