Background: Sociodemographic and health-related factors are often investigated for their association with the active use of electronic health (eHealth). The importance of such factors has been found to vary, depending on the purpose or means of eHealth and the target user groups. Pakistanis are one of the biggest immigrant groups in the Oslo area, Norway. Due to an especially high risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D) among this population, knowledge about their use of eHealth for T2D self-management and prevention (self-care) will be valuable for both understanding this vulnerable group and for developing effective eHealth services.
Objective: The aim of this study was to examine how commonly were the nine types of eHealth for T2D self-care being used among our target group, the first-generation Pakistani immigrants living in the Oslo area. The nine types of eHealth use are divided into three broad categories based on their purpose: information seeking, communication, and active self-care. We also aimed to investigate how sociodemographic factors, as well as self-assessment of health status and digital skills are associated with the use of eHealth in this group.
Methods: A survey was carried out in the form of individual structured interviews from September 2015 to January 2016 (N=176). For this study, dichotomous data about whether or not an informant had used each of the nine types of eHealth in the last 12 months and the total number of positive answers were used as dependent variables in a regression analysis. The independent variables were age, gender, total years of education, digital skills (represented by frequency of asking for help when using information and communication technology [ICT]), and self-assessment of health status. Principal component analyses were applied to make categories of independent variables to avoid multicollinearity.
Results: Principal component analysis yielded three components: knowledge, comprising total years of education and digital skills; health, comprising age and self-assessment of health status; and gender, as being a female. With the exception of closed conversation with a few specific acquaintances about self-care of T2D (negatively associated, P=.02) and the use of ICT for relevant information-seeking by using search engines (not associated, P=.18), the knowledge component was positively associated with all the other dependent variables. The health component was negatively associated with the use of ICT for closed conversation with a few specific acquaintances about self-care of T2D (P=.01) but not associated with the other dependent variables. Gender component showed no association with any of the dependent variables.
Conclusions: In our sample, knowledge, as a composite measure of education and digital skills, was found to be the main factor associated with eHealth use regarding T2D self-care. Enhancing digital skills would encourage and support more active use of eHealth for T2D self-care.
Keywords: immigrants; information seeking behavior; self-care; type 2 diabetes.
©Naoe Tatara, Hugo Lewi Hammer, Hege Kristin Andreassen, Jelena Mirkovic, Marte Karoline Råberg Kjøllesdal. Originally published in JMIR Public Health and Surveillance (http://publichealth.jmir.org), 05.10.2017.