Disparities in health information contribute to healthcare disparities and ultimately contribute to health disparities. The digital divide in use of internet to obtain health information relevant to health care decision making and chronic disease self management represents a critical national challenge to the national goal of addressing health care disparities. Growing use of "The Web" for health information raises the prospect that the digital divide will be converted into a health chasm between the haves and have nots. Social disadvantage, including low educational attainment, low income, being Black, Latino or American Indian, and older age are associated with lower use of The Web to seek health information. Poor access to reliable and accurate health information by members of disparity groups impedes effective health and health care decision making and contributes to health disparities. Patient barriers to Web-based health information include physical access (lack of computer and/or internet connection), attitude (technophobia or limited interest), knowledge and skills (lack of knowledge about high quality sites and low computer and Web literacy), social networks, and failure by busy health care providers to use high quality health information at the point of care. Little is known in how to bet address this digital divide in health information or to improve access to the rich resources offered through the National Library of Medicine (NLM). We propose to address disparities in health information among patients through a unique partnership between a leading Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and a major health sciences library. Specifically, the Anthony Jordan Health Center which delivers primary care to 30,000 largely poor and minority patients, will partner with the Edward G Miner Library at the University of Rochester Medical School to implement a national demonstration project to improve access to NLM health information resources among underserved patients. To our knowledge, this project will represent the first collaboration between an FQHC and a health sciences library explicitly designed to make Web-based NLM resources available to patients at point of care. The project, directed by a nationally recognized disparity researcher, Dr Fiscella, will target key barriers that contribute to the digitl divide in health information through a simple, multipronged strategy that will ensure access to relevant health information at the point of care. Our three inter-related aims address key barriers using feasible methods that can be readily replicated by others. These are: 1) Improve web-access to high quality health information for poor/minority patients within a federally qualified health center;2) Improve patients'knowledge, attitude and skills relevant to accessing health information from the Web;and 3) Improve patient access to targeted high quality information at the point of care. We will evaluate our success in achieving our project aims based on patient and staff use of health information and patient satisfaction with information needs. We will disseminate our findings and experience among FQHCs through existing networks and relationships.
This project will address disparities in health information among patients through a unique partnership between a leading Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), and a major health sciences library. We will implement a national demonstration project to improve access to NLM health information resources among underserved patients.