Sociodemographic determinants of digital health literacy: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Elsevier, International Journal of Medical Informatics, Volume 177, September 2023
Estrela M., Semedo G., Roque F., Ferreira P.L., Herdeiro M.T.

Introduction: Differences in digital health literacy levels are associated with a lack of access to digital tools, usage patterns, and the ability to effectively use digital technologies. Although some studies have investigated the impact of sociodemographic factors on digital health literacy, a comprehensive evaluation of these factors has not been conducted. Therefore, this study sought to examine the sociodemographic determinants of digital health literacy by conducting a systematic review of the existing literature. Methods: A search of four databases was conducted. Data extraction included information on study characteristics, sociodemographic factors, and the digital health literacy scales used. Meta-analyses for age and sex were conducted using RStudio software with the metaphor package. Results: A total of 3922 articles were retrieved, of which 36 were included in this systematic review. Age had a negative effect on digital health literacy (B = -0.05, 95%CI [-0.06; −0.04]), particularly among older adults, whereas sex appeared to have no statistically significant influence among the included studies (B = - 0.17, 95%CI [-0.64; 0.30]). Educational level, higher income, and social support also appeared to have a positive influence on digital health literacy. Discussion: This review highlighted the importance of addressing the digital health literacy needs of underprivileged populations, including immigrants and individuals with low socioeconomic status. It also emphasizes the need for more research to better understand the influence of sociodemographic, economic, and cultural differences on digital health literacy. Conclusions: Overall, this review suggests digital health literacy is dependent on sociodemographic, economic, and cultural factors, which may require tailored interventions that consider these nuances.