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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Temple: Digital Literacy Gaps Could Limit Benefits of Online Health Tools

Can low computer literacy limit a person’s ability to benefit from a health support system? A new study from Dr. Stephen J. Lepore, professor and chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences in Temple University College of Public Health, found that less tech-savvy people may not get the full benefits of an online health service. The push toward more technology in patient support may risk bringing the “digital divide” to healthcare.

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and published in the European Journal of Cancer Care, set up internet support groups for breast cancer patients. The results showed that less digitally literate women participated less in the online groups and reported more distress than others even after online-chat support sessions that were designed to minimize their worries.

“If we’re going to turn to technology as a sort of panacea for our problems, in this case delivering support to cancer patients, what do we need to be aware of? What are the limitations of this approach?,” Dr. Lepore said. “We need to pay attention to whether technology is going to create a sort of access gap.”

Read more about the study.

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