AccScience Publishing / IJPS / Online First / DOI: 10.36922/ijps.1817
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Gender disparities in telehealth use among older adults in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic

Xiayu Summer Chen1* Kun Wang2
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1 School of Social Work, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Champaign–Urbana, Illinois, United States of America
2 Department of Social Work, College of Community and Public Affairs, The State University of New York at Binghamton, Binghamton, New York, United States of America
Submitted: 12 September 2023 | Accepted: 6 December 2023 | Published: 9 July 2024
© 2024 by the Author(s). This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution -Noncommercial 4.0 International License (CC-by the license) ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ )
Abstract

The coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) pandemic underscored the significance of telehealth as a health-care delivery method, particularly for the vulnerable older adult population. Nonetheless, disparities in accessing and utilizing telehealth services persist, influenced by demographic and socioeconomic factors such as gender. This study aims to investigate the utilization of telehealth services among older adults in the United States, focusing on gender-related disparities and associated factors. Using the Round 10 and COVID-19 supplement data from the National Health and Aging Trends Study, the study examined 3,257 participants (male: 42.06%; female: 57.94%). We compared the use of telehealth services before and during the pandemic and conducted a series of logistic regression models to assess factors linked to telehealth utilization by gender. Overall, there was a significant shift toward greater use of telehealth among females during the pandemic, with multimorbidity significantly influencing the relationship between gender and telehealth utilization. For males, those who had multimorbidity (odds ratio [OR] = 2.03; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.07 – 3.84), owned a tablet before COVID-19 (OR = 1.89; 95% CI = 1.13 – 3.14), and learned new technologies during the pandemic (OR = 2.29; 95% CI = 1.37 – 3.82) had higher odds of telehealth use. For females, those with worse self-reported health scores (OR = 1.28; 95% CI = 1.03 – 1.59), owned a tablet (OR = 2.07; 95% CI = 1.32 – 3.23), and learned new technology (OR = 3.37; 95% CI = 2.17 – 5.24) during the pandemic demonstrated increased odds of telehealth use. Gender-based differences in telehealth utilization were evident, highlighting the need for targeted interventions that enhance older adults’ access to telehealth services and mitigate digital disparities.

Keywords
Digital technology
Social work
Telehealth
Gender disparity
Coronavirus disease 19
Funding
None.
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare they have no competing interests.
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