A national survey assessing public readiness for digital health strategies against COVID-19 within the United Kingdom.
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There is concern that digital public health initiatives used in the management of COVID-19 may marginalise certain population groups. There is an overlap between the demographics of groups at risk of digital exclusion (older, lower social grade, low educational attainment and ethnic minorities) and those who are vulnerable to poorer health outcomes from SARS-CoV-2. In this national survey study (n = 2040), we assessed how the UK population; particularly these overlapping groups, reported their preparedness for digital health strategies. We report, with respect to using digital information to make health decisions, that those over 60 are less comfortable (net comfort: 57%) than those between 18 and 39 (net comfort: 78%) and lower social grades are less comfortable (net comfort: 63%) than higher social grades (net comfort: 75%). With respect to a preference for digital over non-digital sources in seeking COVID-19 health information, those over 60 (net preference: 21%) are less inclined than those between 18 and 39 (net preference: 60%) and those of low educational attainment (net preference: 30%) are less inclined than those of high educational attainment (net preference: 52%). Lastly, with respect to distinguishing reliable digital COVID-19 information, lower social grades (net confidence: 55%) are less confident than higher social grades (net confidence: 68%) and those of low educational attainment (net confidence: 51%) are less confident than those of high educational attainment (net confidence: 71%). All reported differences are statistically significant (p < 0.01) following multivariate regression modelling. This study suggests that digital public health approaches to COVID-19 have the potential to marginalise groups who are concurrently at risk of digital exclusion and poor health outcomes from SARS-CoV-2.
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Scientific reports, 2021, 11 (1), pp. 5958 - ?