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Digital Health Literacy as a Predictor of Awareness, Engagement, and Use of a National Web-Based Personal Health Record: Population-Based Survey Study

HumanInsight Digital Health Literacy as a Predictor of Awareness, Engagement, and Use of a National Web-Based Personal Health Record: Population-Based Survey Study

J Med Internet Res. 2022 Sep 16;24(9):e35772. doi: 10.2196/35772.


BACKGROUND: Web-based personal health records (PHRs) have the potential to improve the quality, accuracy, and timeliness of health care. However, the international uptake of web-based PHRs has been slow. Populations experiencing disadvantages are less likely to use web-based PHRs, potentially widening health inequities within and among countries.

OBJECTIVE: With limited understanding of the predictors of community uptake and use of web-based PHR, the aim of this study was to identify the predictors of awareness, engagement, and use of the Australian national web-based PHR, My Health Record (MyHR).

METHODS: A population-based survey of adult participants residing in regional Victoria, Australia, was conducted in 2018 using telephone interviews. Logistic regression, adjusted for age, was used to assess the relationship among digital health literacy, health literacy, and demographic characteristics, and the 3 dependent variables of MyHR: awareness, engagement, and use. Digital health literacy and health literacy were measured using multidimensional tools, using all 7 scales of the eHealth Literacy Questionnaire and 4 out of the 9 scales of the Health Literacy Questionnaire.

RESULTS: A total of 998 responses were analyzed. Many elements of digital health literacy were strongly associated with MyHR awareness, engagement, and use. A 1-unit increase in each of the 7 eHealth Literacy Questionnaire scales was associated with a 2- to 4-fold increase in the odds of using MyHR: using technology to process health information (odds ratio [OR] 4.14, 95% CI 2.34-7.31), understanding of health concepts and language (OR 2.25, 95% CI 1.08-4.69), ability to actively engage with digital services (OR 4.44, 95% CI 2.55-7.75), feel safe and in control (OR 2.36, 95% CI 1.43-3.88), motivated to engage with digital services (OR 4.24, 95% CI 2.36-7.61), access to digital services that work (OR 2.49, 95% CI 1.32-4.69), and digital services that suit individual needs (OR 3.48, 95% CI 1.97-6.15). The Health Literacy Questionnaire scales of health care support, actively managing health, and social support were also associated with a 1- to 2-fold increase in the odds of using MyHR. Using the internet to search for health information was another strong predictor; however, older people and those with less education were less likely to use MyHR.

CONCLUSIONS: This study revealed strong and consistent patterns of association between digital health literacy and the use of a web-based PHR. The results indicate potential actions for promoting PHR uptake, including improving digital technology and skill experiences that may improve digital health literacy and willingness to engage in web-based PHR. Uptake may also be improved through more responsive digital services, strengthened health care, and better social support. A holistic approach, including targeted solutions, is needed to ensure that web-based PHR can realize its full potential to help reduce health inequities.

PMID:36112404 | DOI:10.2196/35772

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