Survey of Canadian Myotonic Dystrophy Patients' Access to Computer Technology

Can J Neurol Sci. 2017 Sep;44(5):567-571. doi: 10.1017/cjn.2017.47. Epub 2017 May 24.


Background: Myotonic dystrophy type 1 is an autosomal dominant condition affecting distal hand strength, energy, and cognition. Increasingly, patients and families are seeking information online. An online neuromuscular patient portal under development can help patients access resources and interact with each other regardless of location. It is unknown how individuals living with myotonic dystrophy interact with technology and whether barriers to access exist. We aimed to characterize technology use among participants with myotonic dystrophy and to determine whether there is interest in a patient portal.

Methods: Surveys were mailed to 156 participants with myotonic dystrophy type 1 registered with the Canadian Neuromuscular Disease Registry.

Results: Seventy-five participants (60% female) responded; almost half were younger than 46 years. Most (84%) used the internet; almost half of the responders (47%) used social media. The complexity and cost of technology were commonly cited reasons not to use technology. The majority of responders (76%) were interested in a myotonic dystrophy patient portal.

Conclusions: Patients in a Canada-wide registry of myotonic dystrophy have access to and use technology such as computers and mobile phones. These patients expressed interest in a portal that would provide them with an opportunity to network with others with myotonic dystrophy and to access information about the disease.

Keywords: myotonic dystrophy; neurology - adult; neuromuscular disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Canada
  • Electronic Health Records / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myotonic Dystrophy / physiopathology*
  • Social Media / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires