Associations Between the Use of eHealth and Out-of-Hours Services in People With Type 1 Diabetes: Cross-Sectional Study
Background - Despite the increasing prevalence of diabetes and the increasing use of eHealth, little is known about the association between provider-based health services and eHealth among people with diabetes. This is the second study in a project exploring the associations between the use of eHealth and the use of provider-based health services.
Objective - The objective of this study was to investigate which eHealth services are used among out-of-hours (OOH) visitors with type 1 diabetes (T1D), and whether the use of eHealth (eg, apps, search engines, video services, and social media) was associated with the use of OOH services. We also wanted to investigate associations between anxiety, reassurance, and change in doctor-seeking behavior because of health information acquired from the Internet, and the use of OOH services.
Methods - We used data from a 2018 email survey of members of the Norwegian Diabetes Association (18-89 years old). Respondents with T1D were eligible for analyses. Using descriptive statistics, we estimated the use of OOH services and eHealth. Using logistic regressions, we studied the associations between the use of OOH services and the use of eHealth, as well as associations between the use of OOH services and reported consequences of using Internet-based health information.
Results - In the sample of 523 people with T1D (mean age 47 years), 26.7% (129/484) visited OOH services once or more during the previous year. Among the OOH visitors, search engines were used for health purposes by 86.7% (111/128), apps (health apps in general) by 63.6% (82/129), social media by 45.3% (58/128), and video services by 28.4% (36/127). The use of OOH services was positively associated with self-reported anxiety/depression (odds ratio [OR] 4.53, 95% CI 1.43-14.32) and with the use of apps (OR 1.73, 95% CI 1.05-2.85), but not with other types of eHealth. Those who had felt anxious based on information from the Internet were more likely to visit OOH services compared with those who had not felt anxious (OR 2.38, 95% CI 1.50-3.78). People who had decided to consult a doctor based on information from the Internet were more likely to visit OOH services (OR 2.76, 95% CI 1.64-4.66), compared to those who had not made such an Internet-based decision.
Conclusions - People with T1D were frequent users of OOH services, and the OOH visitors were frequent users of eHealth. The use of OOH services was positively associated with the use of health apps, with self-reported anxiety/depression, and with feeling anxious based on information from the Internet. Likewise, deciding to consult a doctor based on information from the Internet was positively associated with OOH visits. The use of eHealth seems to have a significant impact on people with T1D.