Factors associated with telehealth use among adults in the United States: Findings from the 2020 National Health Interview Survey

J Telemed Telecare. 2022 Jul 26;1357633X221113192. doi: 10.1177/1357633X221113192. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: During the COVID-19 pandemic, health care shifted to virtual interactions with health professionals. The aim of this study was to examine the determinants of telehealth use in a nationally representative sample of the United States adult population.

Methods: The study used data from the 2020 National Health Interview Survey of 17,582 respondents aged ≥18. Andersen's model of health services utilization was employed to examine predisposing, enabling, and needs factors associated with past-year telehealth use. Multivariable logistic regression was conducted to examine statistical associations.

Results: 32.5% of adults (n = 6402; mean age 51.6, SE = 0.4) reported telehealth use. Predisposing factors: Women and married/partnered adults and those with higher levels of education had greater odds of using telehealth. Adults living in Midwest and South and adults living in medium-small and non-metropolitan areas had decreased odds of using telehealth. Enabling factors: Income and having a usual source of care were positively associated with telehealth use. A negative association was found for those with no insurance and telehealth use, whereas a positive association was found for military insurance. Needs factors: Odds of using telehealth were increased for adults who had well-visits and ER visits in the past 12 months. Mental health services quadrupled the odds of telehealth use. Odds of using telehealth increased with each additional chronic disease, including COVID-19.

Conclusion: There are disparities in telehealth use according to sex, education, rurality, access to care, and health needs. Tackling these disparities is pivotal to ensure barriers to telehealth use are not exacerbated post-pandemic.

Keywords: Andersen's model of health services utilization; COVID-19; National Health Interview Survey; Telehealth; United States.