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Assessing Competencies Needed to Engage With Digital Health Services: Development of the eHealth Literacy Assessment Toolkit

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BACKGROUND: To achieve full potential in user-oriented eHealth projects, we need to ensure a match between the eHealth technology and the user's eHealth literacy, described as knowledge and skills. However, there is a lack of multifaceted eHealth literacy assessment tools suitable for screening purposes.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of our study was to develop and validate an eHealth literacy assessment toolkit (eHLA) that assesses individuals' health literacy and digital literacy using a mix of existing and newly developed scales.

METHODS: From 2011 to 2015, scales were continuously tested and developed in an iterative process, which led to 7 tools being included in the validation study. The eHLA validation version consisted of 4 health-related tools (tool 1: "functional health literacy," tool 2: "health literacy self-assessment," tool 3: "familiarity with health and health care," and tool 4: "knowledge of health and disease") and 3 digitally-related tools (tool 5: "technology familiarity," tool 6: "technology confidence," and tool 7: "incentives for engaging with technology") that were tested in 475 respondents from a general population sample and an outpatient clinic. Statistical analyses examined floor and ceiling effects, interitem correlations, item-total correlations, and Cronbach coefficient alpha (CCA). Rasch models (RM) examined the fit of data. Tools were reduced in items to secure robust tools fit for screening purposes. Reductions were made based on psychometrics, face validity, and content validity.

RESULTS: Tool 1 was not reduced in items; it consequently consists of 10 items. The overall fit to the RM was acceptable (Anderson conditional likelihood ratio, CLR=10.8; df=9; P=.29), and CCA was .67. Tool 2 was reduced from 20 to 9 items. The overall fit to a log-linear RM was acceptable (Anderson CLR=78.4, df=45, P=.002), and CCA was .85. Tool 3 was reduced from 23 to 5 items. The final version showed excellent fit to a log-linear RM (Anderson CLR=47.7, df=40, P=.19), and CCA was .90. Tool 4 was reduced from 12 to 6 items. The fit to a log-linear RM was acceptable (Anderson CLR=42.1, df=18, P=.001), and CCA was .59. Tool 5 was reduced from 20 to 6 items. The fit to the RM was acceptable (Anderson CLR=30.3, df=17, P=.02), and CCA was .94. Tool 6 was reduced from 5 to 4 items. The fit to a log-linear RM taking local dependency (LD) into account was acceptable (Anderson CLR=26.1, df=21, P=.20), and CCA was .91. Tool 7 was reduced from 6 to 4 items. The fit to a log-linear RM taking LD and differential item functioning into account was acceptable (Anderson CLR=23.0, df=29, P=.78), and CCA was .90.

CONCLUSIONS: The eHLA consists of 7 short, robust scales that assess individual's knowledge and skills related to digital literacy and health literacy.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere178
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number5
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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