Renal Transplantation and the Digital Divide: Does Information and Communication Technology Represent Another Barrier to Transplantation for African Americans?

Monday, 18 November 2013: 1:45 PM

Mark B. Lockwood, MSN, RN, CCRC, (PhD student)
Surgery/Solid Organ Transplant, University of Chicago (Student at Oregon Health and Science University), Chicago, IL

Learning Objective 1: understand that information and communication technologies may represent an effective tools in reducing health-related disparities that currently exist in underserved populations.

Learning Objective 2: Be able to describe information and communication technology trends in populations dealing with chronic illness.

Context: Barriers to renal transplantation for African Americans (AAs) are well documented in the literature.  There is little information describing information and communication technology (ICT) ownership and use in transplant populations.

Objective: The purpose of this study is to characterize racial differences related to ICT ownership and usage in renal transplant patients in an effort to identify potential barriers and opportunities to improve health-related communication.

Design: A single center, prospective survey study

Setting: An urban Midwestern transplant center

Participants: 78 pre- and 177 post-transplant patients

Main outcomes measures: The survey consisted of three disease-related questions, six demographic questions, and nine technology related questions.  Yes/No and Likert-type questions were the basis for the survey. 

Results: Subjects that self-identified as White were 3.2 times more likely to own a computer (p=0.03) and 8.5 times more likely to have access to the Internet (p<0.01) compared to those who self-identified as being AA; However, 80% of AA’s reported having access to computers and the Internet. Cellular phone usage was high in both groups (94% AAs vs. 90% White, p=0.22). Seventy-six percent of AAs and Seventy-four percent of Whites reported being “comfortable” sending and receiving text messages.

Conclusion: While statistically significant differences were shown in computer/Internet use, eighty percent of AAs reported having access to computers/ the Internet. The use of cellular phone technology and text messaging was ubiquitous across groups and could represent an opportunity to reach out to the AA community. Both AA’s and Whites reported being comfortable using their cellphone/text messaging.