Posted in Health Literacy

What Causes Health Information Disparity?

Google-Search1A growing number of people are seeking health information on the Internet. To meet demands, healthcare providers are increasingly disseminating information online. While online health information has enhanced the dissemination of health information and improved people’s health-related knowledge, critics posit that such dissemination has widened knowledge disparities in health information and health benefits as a result.

Are we in effect creating another level in our two tier health system – the digitally savvy, information rich haves and the have-nots? What factors increase this disparity? A study by the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Oklahoma set out to answer this question. The result published Dec 27, 2013, show that education lies at the heart of the disparity and impacted other elements such as health literacy and computer self-efficacy.  What is most interesting is the finding that although an individual may possess high levels of computer self-efficacy, this does not correlate with health benefits. What this means is that access to a computer and knowing how to use it, does not impact on health information disparity; but knowing how to search for health information and what to do with that information does.

Ref: Yong-Mi Kim, J. Info. Know. Mgmt., 12, 1350032 (2013) [10 pages] DOI: 10.1142/S0219649213500329

Posted in #HCSM, Ehealth, Health Literacy, Public Health, Research Reports

Low-Income Patients Interested in Digital Health Communication

Many lower-income patients say they would like to communicate electronically with their health care providers but are unable to do so because of insufficient technology at the clinics where they receive care, according to a new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, Medical News Today reports.

The study found that:

  • 78% of the study participants expressed interest in electronic communication with their health care providers (Martinez, “On Central,” KPCC, 2/27);
  • 60% said they use email;
  • 54% said they obtain information from the Internet; and
  • 17% said they already use email to communicate informally with their health care providers.

Adam Schickedanz — lead study author and medical resident at the UCSF Department of Pediatrics — said, “Our work makes it clear that lower-income patients from a wide variety of backgrounds want to be part of the health information technology revolution.” Schickedanz added, “The question is whether they will be afforded the opportunities to take part in the same way as their middle- and higher-income peers.”

Urmimala Sarkar — senior author and assistant professor of medicine with the UCSF Department of Medicine — said, “Electronic health-related communication is becoming the standard of care in well-resourced settings, and should be implemented and supported in resource-poor settings.”

The researchers recommended that future research examine preferences among diverse patient populations for electronically communicating with health care providers. They noted that such research might look at the benefits of tailoring existing communications systems to specific languages and literacy levels (Medical News Today, 2/27).

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Posted in Health Literacy

What do web-use skill differences imply for online health information searches?

See on Scoop.itHealth Care Social Media Monitor

‘Findings related to Web-use skills differences suggest two classes of interventions to facilitate access to good-quality online health information.

Challenges related to attitudes and technical skills should be remedied by improving people’s basic Web-use skills. In particular, Web users should be taught how to avoid information overload by generating specific search terms and to avoid low-quality information by requesting results from trusted websites only.

Problems related to discovery may be remedied by visually labeling search engine results according to quality criteria.’

J Med Internet Res 2012;14(3):e87

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