HumanInsight Use of Health-Related Apps and Telehealth in Adults with Epilepsy in Germany: A Multicenter Cohort Study
Telemed J E Health. 2022 Aug 18. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2022.0238. Online ahead of print.
Background: Telehealth can improve the treatment of chronic disorders, such as epilepsy. Telehealth prevalence and use increased during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. However, familiarity with and use of telehealth and health-related mobile applications (apps) by persons with epilepsy remain unknown. Methods: We investigated telehealth use, demographics, and clinical variables within the multicenter Epi2020 cross-sectional study. Between October and December 2020, adults with epilepsy completed a validated questionnaire, including individual questions regarding knowledge and use of apps and telehealth. Results: Of 476 included individuals (58.2% women; mean age 40.2 ± 15.4 years), 41.6% reported using health-related apps. Health apps were used more frequently (pedometer 32.1%, exercise app 17.6%) than medical apps (health insurance 15.1%, menstrual apps 12.2%) or apps designed for epilepsy (medication reminders 10.3%, seizure calendars 4.6%). Few used seizure detectors (i.e., apps as medical devices 1.9%) or mobile health devices (fitness bracelet 11.3%). A majority (60.9%) had heard the term telehealth, 78.6% of whom had a positive view. However, only 28.6% had a concrete idea of telehealth, and only 16.6% reported personal experience with telehealth. A majority (55%) would attend a teleconsultation follow-up, and 41.2% would in a medical emergency. Data privacy and availability were considered equally important by 50.8%, 21.8% considered data privacy more important, and 20.2% considered data availability more important. Current health-related app use was independently associated with younger age (p = 0.003), higher education (p < 0.001), and subjective COVID-19-related challenges (p = 0.002). Persistent seizure occurrence (vs. seizure freedom ≥12 months) did not affect willingness to use teleconsultations on multivariable logistic regression analysis. Conclusions: Despite positive telehealth views, few persons with epilepsy in Germany are familiar with specific apps or services. Socioeconomic factors influence telehealth use more than baseline epilepsy characteristics. Telehealth education and services should target socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals to reduce the digital care gap. German Clinical Trials Register (DRKS00022024; Universal Trial Number: U1111-1252-5331).
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