An analysis of the digital divide

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An analysis of the digital divide

Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research http: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http: The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http: This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.

Abstract Background The digital divide usually refers to access or usage, but some studies have identified two other divides: Given that the hierarchical stages of the innovation adoption process of a customer are interrelated, it is necessary and meaningful to analyze the digital divide in eHealth services through three main stages, namely, awareness, want, and adoption.

Objective By following the three main integrated stages of the innovation diffusion theory, from the customer segment viewpoint, this study aimed to propose a new matrix analysis of the digital divide using the awareness, want, and adoption gap ratio AWAG. I compared the digital divide among different groups.

Furthermore, I conducted an empirical study on eHealth services to present the practicability of the proposed methodology. Methods Through a review and discussion of the literature, I proposed hypotheses and a new matrix analysis.

To test the proposed method, Taiwanese respondents, aged 15 years and older, were surveyed by telephone. I used the stratified simple random sampling method, with sample size allocation proportioned by the population distribution of 23 cities and counties strata.

An analysis of the digital divide

Second, according to the degrees of awareness and want, each category was further divided into four subcategories. I also defined four possible strategies, namely, hold, improve, evaluate, and leave, for different regions in the proposed matrix.

Results showed that for both eHealth services, the digital divides of awareness, want, and adoption existed across demographic variables, as well as between computer owners and nonowners, and between Internet users and nonusers.

With respect to the analysis of the AWAG segment matrix for DMS, most of the segments, except for people with marriage status of Other or without computers, were positioned in the opened group. With respect to DHCS, segments were separately positioned in the opened, perception-deficiency, and closed groups.

Thus, a strategy to promote adoption should be used for most demographic segments. Consumer behavior process, digital divide, eHealth, innovation adoption process Introduction Health care organizations are beginning to use the Internet in reaching a large part of the population in a cost-effective manner [ 1 ].

Several hundred thousand websites worldwide with varying qualities of health information are accessed and used by consumers and professionals [ 2 ]. The diffusion of broadband, wireless, and mobile Internet [ 3 ] has likewise influenced the traditional behavior of consumer activities, even in health care, thereby bringing about various social benefits.

For patients, who can also be viewed as consumers, eHealth presents an opportunity to change their relationship with providers, such as doctors and nurses [ 5 ]. The adoption of eHealth innovations can have a significant impact on the wellness of communities and populations [ 6 ].

Following the rapid development of broadband Internet access services, the digital divide across demographic variables has become a huge social issue [ 13 ]. Affordable, high-speed wireless Internet access can be provided in rural and remote areas, bridging the gap between health care service and customers [ 14 ].

However, the availability of Internet access might cause another digital divide in eHealth between Internet users and nonusers, as well as between computer owners and nonowners.

In fact, the digital divide in access to Internet technology has already caused inequalities in terms of health care [ 15 ].

An analysis of the digital divide

In the last 10 years, researchers have begun discussing customer acceptance of eHealth services using the technology acceptance model [ 1617 ] and the theory of planned behavior [ 16 ].

However, previous studies have simply discussed eHealth service adoption from the system design and improvement side, and scarcely explored the adoption of specific eHealth services. Studies examining the digital divide in eHealth services from a hierarchy-type viewpoint, such as which customers are adopting a new product or service, are rare.

Therefore, the two main aims of this study are as follows: Methods Literature Review and Proposed Hypotheses The digital divide relates not only to Internet access but also to the existence of a gap between people who can effectively use new information and communication tools, such as the Internet, and those who cannot [ 18 ].

The digital divide usually refers to access or usage; however, some studies have also identified two other divides: Barriers to the emergence of an equitable information society have led to the existence of the digital divide [ 22 ].

More differentiated use of the Internet across varying segments of a given population may result in the digital divide [ 2223 ]. Moreover, demographic variables and socioeconomic status are factors influencing the digital divide [ 2425 ].

Previous studies have indicated that the digital divide across demographic variables, including gender [ 202627 ], age [ 20262829 ], education [ 26 - 31 ], income [ 26272932 ], marital status [ 2630 ], geographic area [ 1320293133 ], and ethnicity [ 203134 ], are significant. Low-income [ 35 ] and elderly people, and those living in rural areas constitute the digitally underserved population [ 2033 ], whereas people with higher education levels or of younger age are considered the digitally leading population [ 2830 ].

Most studies have indicated that gender is no longer an influential factor in the digital divide [ 26293236 ]. However, some studies have asserted that, whereas males are most likely to access the Internet and play online games [ 263738 ], females are most likely to use eHealth services [ 20 ].UNDERSTANDING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE Overcoming the digital divide The importance of policy and regulatory reform needs to be underlined.

The policy rationale is the social benefits to be derived from the spillovers and positive externalities associated with diffusion and greater use of ICTs and related improvements to the skill base.

The Digital Divide and What To Do About It Eszter Hargittai papers-at-eszter-dot-com Sociology Department Princeton University This is a pre-print version of the book chapter to appear in the “New.

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The digital divide usually refers to access or usage, but some studies have identified two other divides: awareness and demand (want). Given that the hierarchical stages of the innovation adoption process of a customer are interrelated, it is necessary and meaningful to analyze the digital divide in eHealth services through three main stages, namely, awareness, want, and adoption.

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