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. 2019 Oct 1;29(Supplement_3):13-17.
doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckz166.

Towards an Equitable Digital Public Health Era: Promoting Equity Through a Health Literacy Perspective

Free PMC article

Towards an Equitable Digital Public Health Era: Promoting Equity Through a Health Literacy Perspective

Natasha Azzopardi-Muscat et al. Eur J Public Health. .
Free PMC article


Digital technologies shape the way in which individuals and health systems interact to promote health and treat illness. Their propensity to exacerbate inequalities is increasingly being highlighted as a concern for public health. Personal, contextual and technological factors all interact and determine uptake and consequent use of digital technologies for health. This article reviews evidence on the impact of digital technologies on health equity. Health literacy is presented as a lens through which to approach research and policy on access, uptake and use of digital technologies. In the short term, based on our review of published literature, we conclude that it is likely that digital technologies will increase health inequities associated with increased age, lower level of educational attainment and lower socio-economic status. Geographical inequity may increase as a result of poor infrastructure but may decrease if digital technologies can be effectively widely deployed to compensate for health workforce and health system deficiencies. Programmes to enhance health and digital literacy and monitoring of access, utilization and impact across all groups in society can help to ensure that digital technologies act to reduce rather than reproduce or exacerbate existent health inequalities.

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