Attitudes toward telemedicine among urban and rural residents

Academic Article


  • Introduction: Adoption of telemedicine by healthcare facilities has dramatically increased since the start of coronavirus pandemic; yet, major differences exist in universal acceptance of telemedicine across different population groups. The goal of this study was to examine population-based factors associated with current and/or future use of telemedicine in Alabama. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was administered to 532 participants online or by phone, in four urban and eight rural counties in Alabama. Data were collected on: demographics, health insurance coverage, medical history, access to technology, and its use in accessing healthcare services. Generalized logit regression models were used to estimate the odds of choosing “virtual visit” and “phone communication” compared to “in-person visit” for the preferred choice of visit with the healthcare provider; as well as odds for willingness to participate in “virtual visit” in the future. Results: Our study sample had a mean age of 43 (±15) years, 72.9% women, 45.9% Black or African American; 59.4% population living in an urban county. The odds of “phone communication” were higher compared to the odds of “in-person visit”, with a unit increase in age (odds ratio: 1.02, 95% confidence interval: 1.00–1.03), after adjusting for other covariates. Among participants with past experience of virtual communications, the odds for choosing “virtual visit” were significantly higher compared to choice of in-person visit (odds ratio for virtual visit: 3.23, 95% confidence interval: 2.01–5.18), adjusted for other covariates. Further, people with college or more education were 71% less likely to choose “No” compared to those with high school or lower general education development education for future virtual visit [odds ratio for college or more: 0.29, 95% confodence interval: 0.10–0.87). Likewise, participants residing in rural counties were 57% less likely to choose “No” compared to urban counties for future virtual visit (odds ratio for rural participants: 0.43, 95% confidence interval:0.19–0.97) Discussion: Our study found notable differences in age, education, and rurality for use and/or preference for telemedicine. Medical institutions and healthcare providers will need to account for these differences to ensure that the implementation of telemedicine does not exacerbate existing health disparities.
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  • Tipre M; Scarinci IC; Pandya VN; Kim YI; Bae S; Peral S; Hardy C; Baskin ML