A Theory-Based Patient Portal eLearning Program for Older Adults With Chronic Illnesses (Maryland)

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The use of patient portals, which allow patients to access their own health records and directly communicate with care providers, may help older adults better manage their health and exchange necessary health information with their providers. Despite potential benefits, adoption of portals is low, with adoption by older adults of particular concern. Although those already using the Internet have similar portal use compared to other age groups, those less familiar with technology require additional support to learn to use them--support that is generally not given by providers.

This project will optimize and implement a vendor-agnostic, adult-friendly eLearning program called the Theory-based Patient portal eLearning Program (T-PeP). T-PeP supports older adults in using portals for their care. Evaluation of use will be via formative and process evaluations. In addition, the preliminary impact of T-PeP on portal use and selected outcomes will be assessed.

The specific aims of this project are as follows:

  • Optimize and implement T-PeP in an older adult online community and conduct formative and process evaluations
  • Assess the preliminary impact of T-PeP on older adults’ portal use and selected health-related outcomes using a two-arm randomized controlled trial 

A randomized controlled trial will be conducted with older adults recruited online who have chronic conditions. It is expected that participants in the intervention group will demonstrate greater improvement than the control group in portal knowledge, self-efficacy for using them, making health decisions, perceived patient-provider communication, and use of the portal as well as being more active in reconciling the medications they are taking with the medications listed in their portal.

Following completion of this project the team anticipates a next phase in which they will test the portal’s long-term effects on health behaviors and clinical outcomes using more diverse samples, including practice settings and underserved populations.

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