Department of Biomedical Informatics

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eHealth Literacy Barriers and Solutions

Research Topic: 
Clinical Informatics

Consumer eHealth interventions are of growing importance in patient management of their health and health behaviors. However, a range of access, resource, and skill-related barriers prevent health consumers from fully engaging in and benefiting from the spectrum of eHealth interventions. eHealth skills, such as familiarity with computers and grasp of health concepts, can facilitate effective use of eHealth tools. Cognitive skills range in complexity, and different eHealth tools will require different demands on skill and cognition. We have developed a framework and method for characterizing complexity of eHealth tasks, which can be used to diagnose and describe literacy barriers and inform the development of solution strategies. The framework integrates eHealth literacies with a means to characterize the complexity of cognitive processes, providing a systematic method of characterizing demands of eHealth tasks. The method involves a novel approach to cognitive task analysis combined with user observations. The method also aims to identify and characterize barriers encountered during user performance of the task. The results of two studies suggests the framework is useful for characterizing task complexity and for diagnosing and explaining barriers encountered in task completion.