A cross-sectional study exploring equity of access to telehealth in culturally and linguistically diverse communities in a major health service

Victor M. Gallegos-Rejas, Jaimon T. Kelly, Karen Lucas, Centaine L. Snoswell, Helen M. Haydon, Sue Pager, Anthony C. Smith, Emma E. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Objectives
The utilisation of telehealth among culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Australia remains unexplored. We aimed to describe telehealth (telephone and videoconference) utilisation within a major health service and identify sociodemographic factors that may contribute to limited telehealth access.

Methods
A cross-sectional study was performed using service activity data from four metropolitan hospitals in Queensland, Australia. Outpatient department data (January to December 2021) were examined. These data included patients (N = 153 427) of all ages who had an outpatient appointment within 10 speciality services (i.e. Hepatology, Gastroenterology, Immunology and Psychology) that were the most frequent videoconference users. This study measured telehealth utilisation across the four tertiary hospitals and its association with sociodemographic factors. Descriptive statistics and regression analysis were used. Multivariate regression models were adjusted by sex, socioeconomic level and language use.

Results
Overall, 39% of appointments were delivered through telehealth, with 65% of all reported telehealth services involving a telephone consultation. People who required interpreter services were 66% less likely to use telehealth services (OR adjusted 0.33, 95% CI 0.31–0.36, P < 0.05) than English-speaking people. Among those using telehealth, people requiring interpreter services were 13% less likely to use videoconference than phone (OR adjusted 0.87, 95% CI 0.77–0.98, P < 0.005).

Conclusion
There is a gap in Australian telehealth service use for people with culturally diverse backgrounds and limited English proficiency. This study highlights a critical need to determine how people from culturally diverse backgrounds would like to engage with digital care options such as telehealth and the necessary support to enable this.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)721-728
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian Health Review
Volume47
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes

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