UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Rural use of health service and telemedicine during COVID-19 : The role of access and eHealth literacy Rush, Kathy L.; Seaton, Cherisse; Li, Eric; Oelke, Nelly D.; Pesut, Barbara


The COVID-19 pandemic has driven a greater reliance on telemedicine, yet rural access, use, and satisfaction with telemedicine and the role of eHealth literacy are unknown. Using a cross-sectional design, 279 (70.6% female) western rural Canadians completed an online survey. The majority of participants reported access to telemedicine, but nearly 1/5 lacked access to online or virtual mental health services. The majority of participants had used health care services following the declared COVID-19 pandemic in North America, and just under half had used telemedicine. Telemedicine satisfaction scores were higher among participants who had used video (M=4.18) compared to those who used phone alone (M=3.79) (p=0.031). Telemedicine satisfaction and eHealth literacy were correlated (r=0.26, p=0.005). Participants did not want telemedicine to replace in-person consultations. Telemedicine practice requires that rural residents have the resources, ability and willingness to engage with remote care.

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