Internet access and use by COPD patients in the National Emphysema/COPD Association Survey
Martinez, Carlos H
St Jean, Beth L
Plauschinat, Craig A
Martinez, Fernando J
Richardson, Caroline R
Han, MeiLan K
Martinez, C.H., St Jean, B.L., Plauschinat, C.A. et al. Internet access and use by COPD patients in the National Emphysema/COPD Association Survey. BMC Pulm Med 14, 66 (2014).
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Technology offers opportunities to improve healthcare, but little is known about Internet use by COPD patients. We tested two hypotheses: Internet access is associated with socio-demographic disparities and frequency of use is related to perceived needs. We analyzed data from a 2007–2008 national convenience sample survey of COPD patients to determine the relationship between Internet access and frequency of use with demographics, socio-economic status, COPD severity, and satisfaction with healthcare. Among survey respondents (response rate 7.2%; n = 914, 59.1% women, mean age 71.2 years), 34.2% reported lack of Internet access, and an additional 49% had access but used the Internet less than weekly. Multivariate models showed association between lack of access and older age (OR 1.10, 95% CI 1.07, 1.13), lower income (income below $30,000 OR 2.47, 95% CI 1.63, 3.73), less education (high school highest attainment OR 2.30, 95% CI 1.54, 3.45), comorbid arthritis or mobility-related disease (OR 1.56, 95% CI 1.05, 2.34). More frequent use (at least weekly) was associated with younger age (OR 0.95, 95% CI 0.93, 0.98), absence of cardiovascular disease (OR 0.48, 95% CI 0.29, 0.78), but with perception of needs insufficiently met by the healthcare system, including diagnostic delay (OR 1.72, 95% CI 1.06, 2.78), feeling treated poorly (OR 2.46, 95% CI 1.15, 5.24), insufficient physician time (OR 2.29, 95% CI 1.02, 5.13), and feeling their physician did not listen (OR 3.14, 95% CI 1.42, 6.95). An analysis of the characteristics associated with Internet access and use among COPD patients identified two different patient populations. Lack of Internet access was a marker of socioeconomic disparity and mobility-associated diseases, while frequent Internet use was associated with less somatic disease but dissatisfaction with care.