BACKGROUND: Overall usage of email communication between patients and physicians continues to increase, due in part to expanding the adoption of electronic health records and patient portals. Unequal access and acceptance of these technologies has the potential to exacerbate disparities in care. Little is known about the attitudes of pediatric caregivers with regard to their acceptance of email as a means to communicate with their health care providers.<br /><br />OBJECTIVE: We conducted a survey to assess pediatric caregiver access to and attitudes toward the use of electronic communication modalities to communicate with health care providers in an urban pediatric primary care clinic.<br /><br />METHODS: Participants were pediatric caregivers recruited from an urban pediatric primary care clinic in Baltimore, Maryland, who completed a 35-item questionnaire in this cross-sectional study.<br /><br />RESULTS: Of the 229 caregivers who completed the survey (91.2% response rate), 171 (74.6%) reported that they use email to communicate with others. Of the email users, 145 respondents (86.3%) stated that they would like to email doctors, although only 18 (10.7%) actually do so. Among email users, African-American caregivers were much less likely to support the expanded use of email communication with health care providers (adjusted OR 0.34, 95% CI 0.14-0.82) as were those with annual incomes less than US $30,000 (adjusted OR 0.26, 95% CI 0.09-0.74).<br /><br />CONCLUSIONS: Caregivers of children have access to email and many would be interested in communicating with health care providers. However, African-Americans and those in lower socioeconomic groups were much less likely to have positive attitudes toward email.
Dudas, R. A., & Crocetti, M. (2013). Pediatric caregiver attitudes toward email communication: Survey in an urban primary care setting. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 15(10). https://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.2738