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Digital skills-building in disadvantaged communities: a novel pathway to addressing health inequalities?

Poduval, Shoba; Arnold, Lily; Carter, Emma; Nimmons, Danielle; Bradbury, Kat; Stevenson, Fiona; Stratton, Irene; (2024) Digital skills-building in disadvantaged communities: a novel pathway to addressing health inequalities? Presented at: UCL Qualitative Health Research Network Conference 2024, Online conference. Green open access

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Abstract

Background: Lack of digital skills together with lack of access, confidence, trust and motivation prevent people from exploiting the benefits of using technology to access healthcare and health information (digital health exclusion). This leads to a risk of exacerbating existing health inequalities experienced by older people, people with less income, less education or who don’t have English as a first language. This study explores the role of voluntary sector community organisations (VCSOs) in providing informal person-centred digital support to disadvantaged communities. / Aim: The overall aim is to explore how community-based digital health support contributes to tackling health inequalities in disadvantaged population groups, with a specific focus on if and how digital support impacts health, how health impacts are brought about, and how support could be enhanced to optimise their impacts. / Methods: We are using qualitative semi-structured interviews to talk to people living in some of the most deprived and diverse areas in the United Kingdom. We are working as a collaborative interdisciplinary research team with statutory services, VCSOs and members of the public to highlight the experiences of communities who are traditionally underserved by research. / Results: Data collection and analysis is ongoing. Reflections from the field work include the challenges of researching disadvantaged communities, and the need to take innovative approaches including relationship-building with community organisations. Emerging findings highlight the importance of community-based support in providing vital social networks, and the need for long-term place-based support which accommodates the unique needs of specific communities (e.g. older people or people from ethnic minority backgrounds). / Conclusions: The planned study completion date is April 2024. Findings will be shared with researchers, health professionals and policy-makers through innovative methods including participatory art demonstrating public perceptions of what it is like to be digitally excluded.

Type: Conference item (Presentation)
Title: Digital skills-building in disadvantaged communities: a novel pathway to addressing health inequalities?
Event: UCL Qualitative Health Research Network Conference 2024
Location: Online conference
Dates: 28 - 29 February 2024
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2024-UCL-QHRN2024.39
Publisher version: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/qualitative-health-research-...
Language: English
Keywords: public health, primary care, digital health, health inequalities
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Health Informatics
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Health Informatics > Clinical Epidemiology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10188984
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