Towards digital health equity - a qualitative study of the challenges experienced by vulnerable groups in using digital health services in the COVID-19 era

Anu Marja Kaihlanen, Lotta Virtanen, Ulla Buchert, Nuriiar Safarov, Paula Valkonen, Laura Hietapakka, Iiris Hörhammer, Sari Kujala, Anne Kouvonen, Tarja Heponiemi

Tutkimustuotos: LehtiartikkeliArticleScientificvertaisarvioitu

9 Sitaatiot (Scopus)
26 Lataukset (Pure)

Abstrakti

BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has given an unprecedented boost to already increased digital health services, which can place many vulnerable groups at risk of digital exclusion. To improve the likelihood of achieving digital health equity, it is necessary to identify and address the elements that may prevent vulnerable groups from benefiting from digital health services. This study examined the challenges experienced by vulnerable groups in using digital health services during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: Qualitative descriptive design was utilized. Semi-structured interviews were conducted between October 2020 and May 2021. The participants (N = 74) were older adults, migrants, mental health service users, high users of health services, and the unemployed. Qualitative content analysis with both inductive and deductive approach was used to analyze the data. Challenges related to the use of digital health services were interpreted through digital determinants of health from the Digital Health Equity Framework. RESULTS: For most of the participants the access to digital health services was hampered by insufficient digital, and / or local language skills. The lack of support and training, poor health, as well as the lack of strong e-identification or suitable devices also prevented the access. Digital services were not perceived to be applicable for all situations or capable of replacing face-to-face services due to the poor communication in the digital environment. Fears and the lack of trust regarding digital platforms were expressed as well as concerns related to the security of the services. Contact with a health care professional was also considered less personal and more prone to misunderstandings in the digital environment than in face-to-face services. Finally, digital alternatives were not always available as desired by participants, or participants were unaware of existing digital services and their value. CONCLUSION: Several development needs in the implementation of digital health services were identified that could improve equal access to and benefits gained from digital services in the future. While digital health services are increasing, traditional face-to-face services will still need to be offered alongside the digital ones to ensure equal access to services.

AlkuperäiskieliEnglanti
Artikkeli188
Sivut1-12
Sivumäärä12
JulkaisuBMC HEALTH SERVICES RESEARCH
Vuosikerta22
Numero1
DOI - pysyväislinkit
TilaJulkaistu - helmik. 2022
OKM-julkaisutyyppiA1 Julkaistu artikkeli, soviteltu

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