Facing the digital divide into a dementia clinic during COVID-19 pandemic: caregiver age matters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has dramatically stressed the health care system and has provoked changes in population use of digital technologies. Digital divide is any uneven distribution in Information and Communications Technologies between people. Aims: The purpose of this work was to describe the digital divide of a population of patients with dementia contacted by telemedicine during Italian lockdown for COVID-19 pandemic. Method: One hundred eight patients with cognitive impairment were contacted by video call to perform a telemedicine neurological evaluation. Information on patients and caregivers attending the televisit were recorded. Results: Seventy-four patients connected with neurologist (successful televisit, 68.5%) and 34 patients were not able to perform televisit and were contacted by phone (failed televisit, 31.5%). No significant differences were observed among the two groups concerning age, gender, and education, but the prevalence of successful televisit was higher in the presence of younger caregivers: televisits performed in the presence of subjects of younger generation (sons and grandsons) had a successful rate higher (86% successful, 14% failed) than the group without younger generation caregiver (49% successful, 51% failed). This difference is mainly due to the ability of technological use among younger people. Discussion: The most impacting factors on digital divide in our population are the social support networks and the experience with the technology: the presence of a digital native caregiver. The COVID-19 pandemic is unmasking an emerging form of technology-related social inequalities: political and community interventions are needed to support the most socially vulnerable population and prevent social health inequalities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1247-1251
Number of pages5
JournalNeurological Sciences
Volume42
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Keywords

  • Caregiver
  • Dementia
  • Digital divide
  • Digital native
  • Telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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