Consumer Use of Computerized Applications to Address Health and Health Care Needs. IV. Differences in use by demographic group


Disparities exist across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic status lines with regard to health status, insurance rates, access to health care services, and quality of care. [170] If patterns of consumer use of health information technology follow similar patterns, it could serve to exacerbate these health disparities. This section reviews the evidence on how individuals with different characteristics use computerized applications for health.

Few data are available comparing the use of different health IT applications across subpopulations. The information that is available primarily focuses on information seeking. In this arena, there is some evidence suggesting that individuals who have lower educational attainment and are either young (and healthy) or older (and less comfortable with computers) are less likely to go online looking for information about health.

In reviewing the evidence on how use of health IT varies by demographic group, it is helpful to reflect on the differences in use of the internet (see “Health IT Prerequisites: General Trends in Health Literacy and Internet Access”). For example, just as more highly educated individuals are substantially more likely to use the internet, higher education is also associated with greater use of health IT tools.

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