OTO Open. 2021 Jun 7;5(2):2473974X211018612. doi: 10.1177/2473974X211018612. eCollection 2021 Apr-Jun.
OBJECTIVE: To describe baseline technology use within the head and neck cancer (HNC) population prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional analysis of National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data.
SETTING: The NHIS is a survey of population health administered in person annually to a nationally representative sample of noninstitutionalized US residents via a complex clustered sampling design.
METHODS: Data regarding technology use, cancer history, and demographics were extracted from the NHIS. The study population comprised individuals who completed the NHIS Sample Adult survey from 2012 to 2018 and self-reported a cancer diagnosis. Poisson regression was used to evaluate associations between demographics and general or health-related technology use and prevalence ratios reported.
RESULTS: Patients with HNC were less likely to use general technology (computers, internet, or email) when compared with other patients with cancer (60% vs 73%, P < .001), although this difference was not statistically significant after controlling for sociodemographic factors. Among patients with HNC, older age, lower education, and lower income were negatively associated with general technology use (adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR], 0.71 [95% CI, 0.59-0.87] for age 65-79 years vs <50 years; aPR, 0.66 [95% CI, 0.51-0.85] for high school vs master; aPR, 0.66 [95% CI, 0.48-0.91] for income 100%-200% vs >400% federal poverty level). Older age and lower education were negatively associated with health-related technology use (aPR, 0.46 [95% CI, 0.32-0.67] for age 65-79 years vs <50 years; aPR, 0.47 [95% CI, 0.30-0.74] for high school vs master).
CONCLUSION: Socioeconomic disparities exist in technology use rates among patients with HNC. Access to technology may pose a barrier to telehealth visits for many patients with HNC due to the unique socioeconomic demographics of this patient population.