Kidney transplant and the digital divide: is information and communication technology a barrier or a bridge to transplant for African Americans?

Authors:
Mark B Lockwood
Mark B Lockwood
University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing
Chicago | United States
Milda R Saunders
Milda R Saunders
Section of Hospital Medicine
Chicago | United States
Christopher S Lee
Christopher S Lee
School of Nursing
Richmond | United States
Yolanda T Becker
Yolanda T Becker
University of Wisconsin
United States
Michelle A Josephson
Michelle A Josephson
University of Chicago
Chicago | United States

Prog Transplant 2013 Dec;23(4):302-9

Oregon Health and Science, University School of Nursing, Portland, Oregon.

Context: Barriers to kidney transplant for African Americans are well documented in the literature. Little information on ownership of information and communication technology and use of such technology in transplant populations has been published.

Objective: To characterize racial differences related to ownership and use of information and communication technology in kidney transplant patients.

Design: A single-center, cross-sectional survey study.

Setting: An urban Midwestern transplant center.

Participants: 78 pretransplant patients and 177 transplant recipients.

Main Outcomes Measures: The survey consisted of 6 demographic questions, 3 disease-related questions, and 9 technology-related questions. Dichotomous (yes/no) and Likert-scale items were the basis for the survey.

Results: Cell phone use was high and comparable between groups (94% in African Americans, 90% in whites, P= .22). A vast majority (75% of African Americans and 74% of whites) reported being "comfortable" sending and receiving text messages. Computer ownership (94.3% vs 79.3%) and Internet access (97.7% vs 80.7%) were greater among whites than African Americans (both P< .01). Fewer African Americans were frequent users of the Internet (27.1% vs 56.3%) and e-mail (61.6% vs 79.3%) than whites (both P<.01). More African Americans than whites preferred education in a classroom setting (77% vs 60%; P< .005) and educational DVDs (66% vs 46%; P< .002).

Conclusion: The use of cell phone technology and text messaging was ubiquitous and comparable between groups, but computer and Internet access and frequency of use were not. Reaching out to the African American community may best be accomplished by using cell phone/text messaging as opposed to Internet-based platforms.

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December 2013
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