Towards digital health equity-a qualitative study of the challenges experienced by vulnerable groups in using digital health services in the COVID 19 era

BMC Health Services
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Towards digital health equity-a qualitative study of the challenges experienced by vulnerable groups in using digital health services in the COVID 19 era

Trust matters in vulnerable populations

In this BMC Health Services article, you'll learn about:
  • Vulnerable groups experienced problems with many digital determinants of health. The most obvious barriers to using the digital health services were the various challenges related to access to digital resources. This was mostly due to poor usability, difficult vocabulary in the services, or weak local language skills. Not having an e-identification was a considerable barrier for some migrant participants. In Finland, migrants from outside the EU must apply for a Finnish ID card first, and then apply for the possibility to have e-ID linked to their banking identifiers.

  • For many, fear and lack of trust hampered the use. Privacy and confidentiality issues can be especially visible for those who are unable to use digital health services in private place or independently when sensitive information may need to be shared with another. Vulnerable groups are at a particular risk of being excluded from digital health services. Development must focus on better usability of digital services and on the opportunities and ability of individuals to benefit from them.

  • The data collected during the COVID-19 pandemic provide very up-to-date and unique information on the experiences of these vulnerable groups at this exceptional time. The fact that we did not directly ask the participants about the challenges related to certain digital determinants of health, but instead gave them a more open opportunity to raise the most important challenges for themselves, may have affected the content of the results. There are no convergent vulnerable groups, but individuals with individual needs and challenges.
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