BackgroundAccess to and use of digital technology are more common among people of more advantaged socioeconomic status. These differences might be due to lack of interest, not having physical access or having lower intentions to use this technology. By integrating the digital divide approach and the User Acceptance of Information Technology (UTAUT) model, this study aims to further our understanding of socioeconomic factors and the mechanisms linked to different stages in the use of Personal Health Records (PHR): desire, intentions and physical access to PHR.
MethodsA cross-sectional online and in-person survey was undertaken in the areas of Lorraine (France), Luxembourg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland (Germany), and Wallonia (Belgium). Exploratory factor analysis was performed to group items derived from the UTAUT model. We applied linear and logistic regressions controlling for country-level heterogeneity, health and demographic factors.
ResultsA total of 829 individuals aged over 18 completed the questionnaire. Socioeconomic inequalities were present in the access to and use of PHR. Education and income played a significant role in individuals' desire to access their PHR. Being older than 65 years, and migrant, were negatively associated with desire to access PHR. An income gradient was found in having physical access to PHR, while for the subgroup of respondents who expressed desire to have access, higher educational level was positively associated with intentions to regularly use PHR. In fully adjusted models testing the contribution of UTAUT-derived factors, individuals who perceived PHRs to be useful and had the necessary digital skills were more inclined to use their PHR regularly. Social influence, support and lack of anxiety in using technology were strong predictors of regular PHR use.
ConclusionThe findings highlight the importance of considering all stages in PHR use: desire to access, physical access and intention to regularly use PHRs, while paying special attention to migrants and people with less advantaged socioeconomic backgrounds who may feel financial constraints and are not able to exploit the potential of PHRs. As PHR use is expected to come with health benefits, facilitating access and regular use for those less inclined could reduce health inequalities and advance health equity.
SUBMITTER: Paccoud I