Demographic Factors Linked to Low Telemedicine Literacy

In HealthDay News
by Healthday

Disadvantaged groups have higher risk for being underserved by telehealth because of low telemedicine literacy

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, March 9, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Demographic factors at the county level are associated with low telemedicine literacy, according to a study published in the March issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Andrew Harris, M.D., from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues created a telemedicine literacy index (TLI) using 2018 U.S. Census county-level data.

The researchers found that age, sex, race, employment status, income level, marital status, educational attainment, and urban or rural classification were significantly associated with telemedicine literacy. Counties in the lowest tertile of telemedicine literacy had significantly lower median annual income levels ($43,613 versus $60,418) and a lower proportion of the population with at least a bachelor’s degree (16.7 versus 26 percent). There was a tripled risk for being in the lowest county-specific TLI among rural areas versus urban areas. Low county-specific TLI was also associated with Black race, widowed marital status, less than a high school education, and presence of a disability.

“Our study finds that patients who fall into specific socioeconomically disadvantaged groups are at the highest risk of being underserved by telehealth services,” a coauthor said in a statement. “The findings may help in targeting at-risk communities for interventions to increase telemedicine literacy and access.”

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