Are individuals with a traumatic brain injury impacted by digital divide? A cross sectional study.
Background: Applications of digital technologies in healthcare are expanding, however the digital divide may prevent some groups from realising the benefits of these innovations.
Aims: The current study examined whether individuals with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) are impacted by first (internet access) and second level (technology use and skills) digital divide in a community setting. The study also explored whether injury-related and demographic variables were associated with device and videoconferencing (VC) use, technology fluency, computer self-efficacy, and computer anxiety.
Methods: Participants (N=113; male=80.5%) aged 18-65 years with a moderate to severe TBI were recruited from various sites across the NSW Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program. Participants completed standardised measures and project specific questions around internet, device and VC use.
Results: Majority of participants reported access to the internet via smart phone (n=112; 99.1%) or multiple devices (n=83; 74.1%). Of those reporting internet use across multiple devices, a small proportion had internet data limits (n=15; 18.0%). Overall, use of VC (n=93; 82.3%) and technology fluency (M=87.38; SD=18.77) amongst the sample was high. Time since injury and injury severity were unrelated to reported levels of technology fluency, computer anxiety and computer self-efficacy. Age and lower education attainment were associated with lower levels of technology fluency, and computer self-efficacy, and higher computer anxiety.
Conclusions: Individuals with a traumatic brain injury do not appear to be uniquely affected by gaps in internet access, technology use and skill, and as such are well-placed to realise the potential benefits of digital technology applications in healthcare.