Differences in the Level of Electronic Health Literacy Between Users and Nonusers of Digital Health Services: An Exploratory Survey of a Group of Medical Outpatients

Kamila Beata Adellund Holt, Astrid Karnoe, Dorthe Overgaard, Sidse, Edith Nielsen, Lars Kayser, Michael Einer Røder, Gustav From

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Background: Digitalization of health services ensures greater availability of services and improved contact to health professionals. To ensure high user adoption rates, we need to understand the indicators of use and nonuse. Traditionally, these have included classic sociodemographic variables such as age, sex, and educational level. Electronic health literacy (eHL) describes knowledge, skills, and experiences in the interaction with digital health services and technology. With our recent introduction of 2 new multidimensional instruments to measure eHL, the eHL questionnaire (eHLQ) and the eHL assessment (eHLA) toolkit, eHL provides a multifaceted approach to understand use and nonuse of digital health solutions in detail.

    Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate how users and nonusers of digital services differ with respect to eHL, in a group of patients with regular contact to a hospital outpatient clinic. Furthermore, to examine how usage and nonusage, and eHL levels are associated with factors such as age, sex, educational level, and self-rated health.

    Methods: Outpatients were asked to fill out a survey comprising items about usage of digital services, including digital contact to general practitioner (GP) and communication via the national health portal sundhed.dk, the eHLQ, and the eHLA toolkit, as well as items on age, sex, education, and self-rated health. In total, 246 patients completed the survey. A Mann-Whitney test was used to test for differences between users and nonusers of digital services. Correlation tests described correlations between eHL scales (eHEALSs) and age, education, and self-rated health. A significance level of .0071 was used to reject the null hypothesis in relation to the eHEALSs and usage of digital services.

    Results: In total, 95.1% (234/246) of the participants used their personal digital ID (NemID), 57.7% (142/246) were in contact with their GPs electronically, and 54.0% (133/246) had used the national health portal (sundhed.dk) within the last 3 months. There were no differences between users and nonusers of sundhed.dk with respect to age, sex, educational level, and self-rated health. Users of NemID scored higher than nonusers in 6 of the 7 dimensions of eHLQ, the only one which did not differ was dimension 2: Understanding of health concepts and language. Sundhed.dk users had a higher score in all of the 7 dimensions except for dimension 4: Feel safe and in control. The eHLA toolkit showed that users of sundhed.dk and NemID had higher levels of eHL with regard to tools 2, 5, 6, and 7. Furthermore, users of sundhed.dk had higher levels of eHL with regard to tools 3 and 4.

    Conclusions: Information about patients’ eHL may provide clinicians an understanding of patients’ reasons for not using digital health services, better than sociodemographic data or self-rated health.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere8423
    JournalInteractive Journal of Medical Research
    Issue number2
    Number of pages12
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


    • disease, health science and nursing

    Cite this