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2015 HSR&D/QUERI National Conference Abstract

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3064 — Technology Use and Related Attitudes Among Veterans and Their Informal Caregivers

Duan-Porter W, Durham VA COIN; Van Houtven CH, Durham VA COIN; Chapman JG, Durham VA COIN; Mahanna E, Durham VA COIN; Stechuchak KM, Durham VA COIN; Coffman CJ, Durham VA COIN; Hastings SN, Durham VA COIN;

Objectives:
VHA is committed to leveraging information technology to improve healthcare for Veterans. However, it is uncertain whether technology-enhanced interventions would be feasible and acceptable for high-risk veteran populations. We use survey data from two randomized clinical trials in order to describe internet use, device access, and willingness to participate in technology-enhanced healthcare interventions.

Methods:
Data are derived from two ongoing studies"”1) a nurse telephone support program targeting veterans with a recent Emergency Department (ED) encounter and multiple risk factors for repeat ED visits (DISPO ED), and 2) a training program to support and educate informal caregivers of veterans (HI-FIVES). Survey questions examined prevalence of internet use, device access, and attitudes about new technology (responses on Likert scales, 1 = Not at all, 5 = Very comfortable or willing).

Results:
Among 184 respondents (n = 135 veterans, n = 49 caregivers, n = 62 women, mean age 59.7 years), 145 (79%) used the internet within the past year. For those who used the internet, 93 (64%) accessed the internet daily, 34 (23%) used the internet weekly, and 18 (12%) used it less than once a week. Most frequently named devices for internet access were cellphones (n = 85, 59%) and laptops (n = 85, 59%). Overall, most respondents were very comfortable with using new devices with in-person assistance (n = 116, 63%), whereas a somewhat lower proportion were very comfortable using new technology on their own (n = 80, 44%). Few of those who did not use the internet within the past year were very comfortable with using new devices on their own (n = 7, 18%); in contrast, a larger proportion of internet users were very comfortable on their own (n = 73, 50%). A majority of respondents were very willing to communicate with healthcare providers by videoconference via a variety of devices, including cellphones (n = 123, 67%) and tablets (n = 121, 66%).

Implications:
Internet use was common among two populations of high-risk veterans and their caregivers, and most respondents were very willing to communicate with their healthcare providers via internet.

Impacts:
These data support the feasibility and acceptability of technology-enhanced healthcare interventions in high-risk groups. Offering in-person assistance with new technology may be important for implementation.