Patient preferences for a hospital-based rheumatology Interactive Health Communication Application and factors associated with these preferences.

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2011 May 6 van der Vaart R, Drossaert CH, Taal E, van de Laar MA. IBR Research Institute for Social Sciences and Technology, Department of Psychology, Health & Technology, University of Twente and Arthritis Centre Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands.

Objectives: To examine current disease-related Internet use and intentions to use various online support services on a hospital-based Interactive Health Communication Application (IHCA) of patients with rheumatic diseases. Furthermore, to examine which variables are associated with the intentions to use different services.

Methods: Questionnaires were sent to a random sample of 484 patients of a large hospital's rheumatology clinic: response was 47% (n = 227). Questions included socio-demographics, health characteristics, health literacy, patients' current disease-related Internet use and their intentions to use eight different support services: (i) information about disease and treatment; (ii) information about care and support; (iii) peer communication; (iv) e-consultation; (v) autonomous symptom monitoring; (vi) symptom monitoring with telemonitoring; (vii) self-management support; and (viii) access to their electronic medical records.

Results: Although most patients with Internet access had used it in relation to their disease (82%), Internet use was mainly limited to searching information. Many patients (45-68%), however, intended to use seven out of eight possible online services if offered on a hospital-based rheumatology IHCA. An exception was peer communication; only 11% intended to use this service. Of all the services, access to the electronic medical record was mostly preferred, followed by information provision. Demographics, health characteristics and health literacy did not show clear significant relationships with the reported intentions.

Conclusion: Results show that patients with rheumatic diseases are interested in online support from the hospital and that they intend to use an IHCA, if it is available. Clear associating variables with reported intentions to use the different services were not found.

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