Purpose: Public engagement with eHealth is generally viewed as beneficial. However, despite the potential benefits, public engagement with eHealth services remains variable. This article explores reasons for this variability through a review of published international literature.
Methods: A focused search, conducted in January 2009, of three bibliographic databases, MEDLINE, CINAHL and EMBASE, returned 2622 unique abstracts.
Results: Fifty articles met the inclusion criteria for the review. Four main types of eHealth service were identified: health information on the Internet; custom-made online health information; online support; and telehealth. Public engagement with these services appears to depend on a number of factors: characteristics of users; technological issues; characteristics of eHealth services; social aspects of use; and eHealth services in use.
Conclusions: Recommendations for policy makers, developers, users and health professionals, include: targeting efforts towards those underserved by eHealth; improving access; tailoring services to meet the needs of a broader range of users; exploiting opportunities for social computing; and clarifying of the role of health professionals in endorsement, promotion and facilitation.
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