Study: Adults with low health literacy less likely to adopt health IT tools

A study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research investigated how a healthcare consumer's health literacy impacts their likelihood of using health IT tools.

The study was led by Michael Mackert, PhD, a researcher with the University of Texas at Austin's Moody College of Communication and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston's School of Public Health. Dr. Mackert and his team identified 4,974 participants to determine whether health literacy is associated with use of fitness apps, nutrition apps, activity trackers or patient portals.

Health literacy describes "the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions," according to HHS. The researchers found health literacy was significantly associated with the use of all four of these health IT tools; health literacy was also significantly associated with perception of health IT tools as ease of use and usefulness.

"Given the fast-paced evolution of technology, there is a pressing need to further the understanding of how health literacy is related to HIT app adoption and usage," the researchers concluded. "This will ensure that all users receive the full health benefits from these technological advances."

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