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Computer habits and digital literacy in geriatric patients: A survey

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Objective: Among hospitalised geriatric patients, only half are computer users. However, many of them refrain from using telehealth solutions. This study aimed to investigate geriatric patients’ computer and Internet habits and digital literacy and their associations with stress levels and frequency of Internet use. Methods: Inpatients and outpatients aged 65 years or older, all computer users, were consecutively surveyed. Besides information about computer and Internet habits, computer support, and computer stress, the survey also collected information about digital literacy using the electronic Health Literacy Assessment toolkit. Results: A total of 124 computer users with a mean age of 80.6 ± 7.4 years participated in the study from 1 October to 1 December 2019. Most patients received computer support from their children and grandchildren, whereas 6% did not seek support. They found themselves ‘most familiar with using a keyboard’ (79%), 59% ‘were unfamiliar with the Copy Paste function’, and only one-third ‘were open to new ways of using computers’. Digital literacy was associated with the frequency of Internet use (P = 0.001), and higher digital literacy was associated with less computer stress (P = 0.01). Conclusions: Geriatric computer users are challenged by their basic computer skills, which may influence their choice of participation in telehealth solutions. If telehealth solutions are to succeed among geriatric patients, individualised computer support based on their basic computer skills and user-friendly computer devices are a prerequisite. For ongoing support, it is also necessary to introduce people close to the patient to telehealth solutions.

TidsskriftDigital Health
StatusUdgivet - jan. 2023

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