Impact of age on patients' communication and technology preferences in the era of meaningful use: Mixed methods study

Martina A. Clarke, Ann L. Fruhling, Marilyn Sitorius, Thomas A. Windle, Tamara L. Bernard, John R. Windle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: Identifying effective means of communication between patients and their health care providers has a positive impact on patients' satisfaction, adherence, and health-related outcomes. Objective: This study aimed to identify the impact of patients' age on their communication and technology preferences when managing their health. We hypothesize that a patient's age affects their communication and technology preferences when interacting with clinicians and managing their health. Methods: A mixed methods study was conducted to identify the preferences of patients with cardiovascular diseases. Results were analyzed based on the patients' age. Grounded theory was used to analyze the qualitative data. Patients were recruited based on age, gender, ethnicity, and zip code. Results: A total of 104 patients were recruited: 34 young adults (19-39 years), 33 middle aged (40-64), and 37 senior citizens (>65). Young adults (mean 8.29, SD 1.66) reported higher computer self-efficacy than middle-aged participants (mean 5.56, SD 3.43; P<.05) and senior citizens (mean 47.55, SD 31.23; P<.05). Qualitative analysis identified the following three themes: (1) patient engagement (young adults favored mobile technologies and text messaging, middle-aged patients preferred phone calls, and senior citizens preferred direct interactions with the health care provider); (2) patient safety (young adults preferred electronic after-visit summaries [AVS] and medication reconciliation over the internet; middle-aged patients preferred paper-based or emailed AVS and medication reconciliation in person; senior citizens preferred paper-based summaries and in-person medication reconciliation); (3) technology (young adults preferred smartphones and middle-aged patients and senior citizens preferred tablets or PCs). Middle-aged patients were more concerned about computer security than any other group. A unique finding among senior citizens was the desire for caregivers to have access to their personal health record (PHR). Conclusions: Patients of different ages have different communication and technology preferences and different preferences with respect to how they would like information presented to them and how they wish to interact with their provider. The PHR is one approach to improving patient engagement, but nontechnological options need to be sustained to support all patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13470
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Age groups
  • Communication
  • Data display
  • Needs assessment
  • Patients
  • Personal health record

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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