Background: The primary function of the patient portal is to give patients greater access to their personal health information. Granting patients electronic access allows them to make well-informed health care decisions. Objective: This study aimed to identify sociodemographic differences in patient portal use and examine factors affecting patient portal utilization following the final stage of the Meaningful Use program which aimed to promote the use of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology. Research Design: Survey data from Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) 5, cycles 1, 2, and 3 were analyzed. The sample included 8291 completed surveys. Multivariable logistic regression on a selected response for each surveyed question was used to assess the racial and ethnic difference after controlling for age, sex, income, and education. Subjects: Subjects included English and Spanish speaking adults in the USA. Measures: Measures included assessment of patient portal use, patient portal access, understanding health information, usefulness of health records, and privacy and security. Results: After adjusting for age, sex, income, and education, there was a significant association between race/ethnicity and patient portal non-users responding, “no need to use online medical record” as the reason for not using the patient portal (P = 0.005). Among the portal users, there were significant associations between race/ethnicity and health care provider maintaining an EHR (P = 0.006), being offered access to their portal (P < 0.001), understanding health information in the portal (P = 0.004), finding the portal useful for health monitoring (P < 0.001), reporting concern about unauthorized access (P = 0.017), and keeping information from health care providers (P = 0.012). Conclusions: Race/ethnicity affects perceptions on the need for the patient portal, being offered access to a portal, and the reasons to access information online. Understanding the factors affecting patient portal use can inform future strategies aimed at increasing adoption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)879-891
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Patient portals
  • Patients
  • Personal health record
  • Sociodemographic differences
  • Utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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