Performance, privacy and self-efficiency linked to telehealth utilization in older populations

The utilization of telehealth by older patients is linked to perceived privacy and security, performance expectancy and required effort, according to a study published April 4 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Researchers and clinicians are hoping to utilize telehealth to reach more patients more efficiently. However, 93 percent of care in the Netherlands is delivered face-to-face. In this study, researchers aimed to improve implementation of the Dutch Ministry of Health’s national telehealth program by understanding older populations’ readiness to use telehealth.


“To support older people in the use of digital technology in healthcare, we must first understand their readiness to do so by exploring the factors associated with older people’s intention to use digital technologies, such as videoconferencing (which is a part of telehealth),” wrote first author Cornelis Van Houwelingen, MSc, and colleagues. “Furthermore, it is relevant to explore how older people address technology in their daily life. This knowledge could benefit health care professionals’ abilities to assist older people in using technology and enable older people to benefit more from novel technology that supports them in aging in place.”

The study delivered surveys to 256 patients aged 65 and above on intentions of using videoconferencing and their capacity of using digital technology. The patients’ capacity in using digital health was linked to self-efficacy and digital literacy, obstacles in using technology, prior experience, sources of support and performance expectancy.

“Performance expectancy, effort expectancy, and perceived privacy and security are direct predictors of older people’s intention to use videoconferencing,” wrote Van Houwelingen and colleagues. “Self-efficacy appeared to play a role in both older people’s intention to use, as well as their actual use of technology. The path analysis revealed that self-efficacy was significantly associated with older people’s effort expectancy. Furthermore, self-efficacy and digital literacy appeared to play a major role in older people’s capacities to make use of digital technology.”