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Evaluating a Public Health Information Service According to Users' Socioeconomic Position and Health Status: Protocol for a Cross-Sectional Study

  • Estevez, Megane
  • Domecq, Sandrine
  • Montagni, Ilaria
  • Ramel, Viviane
Publication Date
Nov 24, 2023
DOI: 10.2196/51123
OAI: oai:HAL:hal-04387385v1
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BACKGROUND: The increasing use of information technology in the field of health is supposed to promote users' empowerment but can also reinforce social inequalities. Some health authorities in various countries have developed mechanisms to offer accurate and relevant information to health care system users, often through health websites. However, the evaluation of these sociotechnical tools is inadequate, particularly with respect to differences and inequalities in use by social groups. OBJECTIVE: Our study aims to evaluate the access, understanding, appraisal, and use of the French website Santé.fr by users according to their socioeconomic position and perceived health status. METHODS: This cross-sectional study involves the entire French population to which Santé.fr is offered. Data will be collected through mixed methods, including a web-based questionnaire for quantitative data and interviews and focus groups for qualitative data. Collected data will cover users' access, understanding, appraisal, and use of Santé.fr, as well as sociodemographic and socioeconomic characteristics, health status, and digital health literacy. A validation of the dimensions of access, understanding, appraisal, and use of Santé.fr will be conducted, followed by principal component analysis and ascendant hierarchical classification based on the 2 main components of principal component analysis to characterize homogeneous users' profiles. Regression models will be used to investigate the relationships between each dimension and socioeconomic position and health status variables. NVivo 11 software (Lumivero) will be used to categorize interviewees' comments into preidentified themes or themes emerging from the discourse and compare them with the comments of various types of interviewees to understand the factors influencing people's access, understanding, appraisal, and use of Santé.fr. RESULTS: Recruitment is scheduled to begin in January 2024 and will conclude when the required number of participants is reached. Data collection is expected to be finalized approximately 7 months after recruitment, with the final data analysis programmed to be completed around December 2024. CONCLUSIONS: This study would be the first in France and in Europe to evaluate a public health information service, in this case the Santé.fr website (the official website of the French Ministry of Health), according to users' socioeconomic position and health status. The study could discover issues related to inequalities in access to, and the use of, digital technologies for obtaining health information on the internet. Given that access to health information on the internet is crucial for health decision-making and empowerment, inequalities in access may have subsequent consequences on health inequalities among social categories. Therefore, it is important to ensure that all social categories have access to Santé.fr. INTERNATIONAL REGISTERED REPORT IDENTIFIER (IRRID): PRR1-10.2196/51123.

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