Formative evaluation to assess communication technology access and health communication preferences of Alaska Native people

  • Renee F. Robinson
  • Denise A. Dillard
  • Vanessa Y. Hiratsuka
  • Julia J. Smith
  • Steve Tierney
  • Jaedon P. Avey
  • Dedra S. Buchwald
Keywords: Healthcare communication, technology access, colorectal cancer, disease screening, Alaska


Objective:Information technology can improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare delivery by improving provider and patient access to health information. We conducted a nonrandomized, cross-sectional, self-report survey to determine whether Alaska Native and American Indian (AN/AI) people have access to the health communication technologies available through a patient-centered medical home. Methods: In 2011, we administered a self-report survey in an urban, tribally owned and operated primary care center serving AN/AI adults. Patients in the center’s waiting rooms completed the survey on paper; center staff completed it electronically. Results: Approximately 98% (n = 654) of respondents reported computer access, 97% (n = 650) email access, and 94% (n = 631) mobile phone use. Among mobile phone users, 60% had Internet access through their phones. Rates of computer access (p = .011) and email use (p = .005) were higher among women than men, but we found no significant gender difference in mobile phone access to the Internet or text messaging. Respondents in the oldest age category (65–80 years of age) were significantly less likely to anticipate using the Internet to schedule appointments, refill medications, or communicate with their health care providers (all p < .001). Conclusion:Information on use of health communication technologies enables administrators to deploy these technologies more efficiently to address health concerns in AN/AI communities. Our results will drive future research on health communication for chronic disease screening and health management. 

Research Papers