Salus journal

Healthy Planet. Healthy People.

Healthcare / Mobile health

European Healthcare Design 2019

The digital divide: examining the use and access to e-health based technologies by millennials and older adults

By Delana Theiventhiran and Wally J Bartfay 12 Jun 2019 0

This poster looks at how older adults and millennials access and use e-health based technologies.


As the internet becomes the dominant channel of modern communications, there are many pragmatic reasons why the digital divide matters in accessing and using e-health based technologies. In general, the older generation may not be as familiar and comfortable with technology usage, and are put at a disadvantage compared with other generations such as millennials when examining and using e-health based platforms and technology. Currently, little is known about how older adults and millennials access and use e-health based technologies. 

Methods: A systemic review of the literature was undertaken employing the following three databases: (i) PubMed; (ii) ERIC; and (iii) CINAHL; and employing the search term “digital divide and generations” to identify potential articles. To extract required data from the studies, a data abstraction tool was created to obtain the following information: (i) author; (ii) year of publication; (iii) sample size; (iv) country of origin; (v) design/methods; and (vi) major findings/outcomes obtained. Criteria included publication dates between January 2009 and August 2018, written in the English language, target populations of older adults aged 65+ and millennials, and peer-reviewed quantitative studies only. 

Results: PubMed provided 505 potential articles, where 23 of those articles met the inclusion criteria. Specifically, ERIC provided 53 potential articles, where no articles met criteria following data extraction. CINAHL provided 14 potential articles, where eight articles met criteria following data extraction. 

Conclusion: Practically speaking, identifying how newer e-health based technologies can be integrated into society and identifying why there is a gap with digital technology will help reduce the impact on those who are not familiar with technology. Several of the articles (n=9) indicated that age is one of the larger factors contributing to the digital divide.

Similarly, many of the examined articles (n=9) identify that privacy concerns are one of the main deterrents of technology usage for elderly individuals aged 65 and over. The older generation feels that privacy (n=2) is one of the major concerns, especially in regard to how data is collected, used and possibly sold to third-party groups. Furthermore, access to technology, the internet, and infrastructure also influence how individuals are able to receive and use information. A change in the way that healthcare is currently used, received and distributed would also help ensure that no generation is left behind in a technologically advanced society.