Patient-provider relationships influence diabetes care; less is known about their impact on online patient portal use. Diabetes patients rated provider communication and trust. In this study, we linked responses to electronic medical record data on being a registered portal user and using secure messaging (SM). We specified regression models to evaluate main effects on portal use, and subgroup analyses by race/ethnicity and age. 52% of subjects were registered users; among those, 36% used SM. Those reporting greater trust were more likely to be registered users (relative risk (RR)=1.14) or SM users (RR=1.29). In subgroup analyses, increased trust was associated with being a registered user among white, Latino, and older patients, as well as SM use among white patients. Better communication ratings were also related to being a registered user among older patients. Since increased trust and communication were associated with portal use within subgroups, this suggests that patient-provider relationships encourage portal engagement.
Keywords: age; diabetes; patient portals; patient-provider relationship; race/ethnicity.