Patient attitudes toward telemedicine for diabetic retinopathy

March 1, 2017
Telemedicine and e-Health

Introduction: Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is the leading cause of new-onset blindness in adults. Telemedicine is a validated, cost-effective method to improve monitoring. However, little is known of patients’ attitudes toward telemedicine for DR. Our study explores factors that influence patients’ attitudes toward participating in telemedicine.

Materials and Methods: Ninety seven participants in a university and the Veterans Administration setting completed a survey. Only people with diabetes mellitus (DM) were included. The main outcome was willingness to participate in telemedicine. The other outcomes were perceived convenience and impact on the patient–physician relationship. Participants reported demographic information, comorbidities, and access to healthcare. Analysis was performed with t-tests and multivariable logistic regression.

Results: Demographic factors were not associated with the outcomes (all p > 0.05). Patients had decreased odds of willingness if they valued the patient–physician relationship (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 0.08, confidence interval [CI] = 0.02–0.35, p = 0.001) or had a longer duration of diabetes (adjusted OR = 0.93, CI = 0.88–0.99, p = 0.02). Patients had increased odds of willingness if they perceived increased convenience (adjusted OR = 8.10, CI = 1.77–36.97, p = 0.01) or had more systemic comorbidities (adjusted OR = 1.85, CI = 1.10–3.11, p = 0.02).

Discussion: It is critical to understand the attitudes of people with DM where telemedicine shows promise for disease management and end-organ damage prevention. Patients’ attitudes are influenced by their health and perceptions, but not by their demographics. Receptive patients focus on convenience, whereas unreceptive patients strongly value their patient–physician relationships or have long-standing DM. Telemedicine monitoring should be designed for people who are in need and receptive to telemedicine.

Citation: Valikodath Nita G., Leveque Thellea K., Wang Sophia Y., Lee Paul P., Newman-Casey Paula Anne, Hansen Sean O., and Woodward Maria A..Telemedicine and e-Health. March 2017, 23(3): 205-212.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/tmj.2016.0108.

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