Internet Use and Technology-Related Attitudes of Veterans and Informal Caregivers of Veterans

W. Duan-Porter, C.H. Van Houtven, E.P. Mahanna, J.G. Chapman, K.M. Stechuchak, C.J. Coffman, S.N. Hastings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Healthcare systems are interested in technology-enhanced interventions to improve patient access and outcomes. However, there is uncertainty about feasibility and acceptability for groups who may benefit but are at risk for disparities in technology use. Thus, we sought to describe characteristics of Internet use and technology-related attitudes for two such groups: (1) Veterans with multi-morbidity and high acute care utilization and (2) informal caregivers of Veterans with substantial care needs at home. Materials and Methods: We used survey data from two ongoing trials, for 423 Veteran and 169 caregiver participants, respectively. Questions examined Internet use in the past year, willingness to communicate via videoconferencing, and comfort with new technology devices. Results: Most participants used Internet in the past year (81% of Veterans, 82% of caregivers); the majority of users (83% of Veterans, 92% of caregivers) accessed Internet at least a few times a week, and used a private laptop or computer (81% of Veterans, 89% of caregivers). Most were willing to use videoconferencing via private devices (77-83%). A majority of participants were comfortable attempting to use new devices with in-person assistance (80% of Veterans, 85% of caregivers), whereas lower proportions were comfortable "on your own" (58-59% for Veterans and caregivers). Internet use was associated with comfort with new technology devices (odds ratio 2.76, 95% confidence interval 1.70-4.53). Conclusions: Findings suggest that technology-enhanced healthcare interventions are feasible and acceptable for Veterans with multi-morbidity and high healthcare utilization, and informal caregivers of Veterans. In-person assistance may be important for those with no recent Internet use. © Copyright 2018, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2018.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)471-480
Number of pages10
JournalTelemedicine and e-Health
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank Katina Morris and Laurie Mar-brey for help with administration of surveys examining Internet use and attitudes toward technology. Funding was provided by VA Health Services Research & Development (HSR&D) for DISPO ED (IIR 12-052, PI Hastings) and for HI-FIVES (IIR 11-345, PI Van Houtven). This work was also supported by the Center of Innovation for Health Services Research in Primary Care (CIN 13-410). Fellowship support for W.D.-P. was provided by grant number TPH 21-024 from the VA Office of Academic Affiliations. The sponsors had no role in the design or conduct of this study. Views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the VA or the U.S. government.

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright 2018, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2018.


  • informal caregivers
  • telehealth
  • telemedicine
  • Veterans
  • videoconferencing
  • Diseases
  • Medical computing
  • mHealth
  • Patient treatment
  • Telemedicine
  • Video conferencing
  • Confidence interval
  • Health-care system
  • Healthcare utilization
  • Informal caregivers
  • New technologies
  • Technology use
  • Telehealth
  • Surveys

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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