How are patients with chronic urticaria interested in using information and communication technologies to guide their healthcare? A UCARE study

World Allergy Organ J. 2021 Jun 4;14(6):100542. doi: 10.1016/j.waojou.2021.100542. eCollection 2021 Jun.


Background: Patients with chronic urticaria (CU) are increasingly using information and communication technologies (ICTs) to manage their health. What CU patients expect from ICTs and which ICTs they prefer remains unknown. We assessed why CU patients use ICTs, which ones they prefer, and what drives their expectations and choices.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, 1841 patients across 17 countries were recruited at UCAREs (Urticaria Centers of Reference and Excellence). Patients with CU who were >12 years old completed a 23-item questionnaire.

Results: Most patients were interested in receiving disease information (87.3%), asking physicians about CU (84.1%), and communicating with other patients through ICTs (65.6%). For receiving disease information, patients preferred one-to-one and one-to-many ICTs, especially web browsers. One-to-one ICTs were also the ICTs of choice for asking physicians about urticaria and for communicating with other patients, and e-mail and WhatsApp were the preferred ICTs, respectively. Many-to-many ICTs such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter were least preferred for all 3 purposes. Living in rural areas and higher education were linked to higher odds of being interested in receiving disease information, asking physicians, and communicating with patients through ICTs.

Conclusions: Most patients and especially patients with higher education who live in rural areas are interested in using ICTs for their healthcare, but prefer different ICTs for different purposes, ie, web browsers for obtaining information, e-mail for asking physicians, and WhatsApp for communicating with other patients. Our findings may help to improve ICTs for CU.

Keywords: Chronic urticaria; Information and communication technologies; Internet; WhatsApp; e-mail.