”A personal doctor will not be replaced by any robot service!” – Older adults’ experiences with personal health information and eHealth services


Personal health and medical information can be textual, numerical, and visual. Medical information is preserved and managed in professionally maintained medical records, but also privately by patients. The ways of preservations vary, from digital to paper-based approaches, but increasingly, medical records and health services overall have turned digital. However, not all favor digital services, especially when it comes to older adults. Negative attitudes towards digital health services can reflect attitudes towards digital technology (Knapova, Klocek & Elavsky, 2020) or appreciation of direct interaction with healthcare professionals. Moreover, patient-accessible services shape people’s personal health information management behavior (Anonymized for review). This study contributes to filling the gap observed in a systematic review indicating that relatively little attention has been paid to examining people’s experiences on eHealth services, including their benefits (Anonymized for review).

Methods and data collection

A postal survey was mailed to a random population sample of 1,500 individuals aged 55-70 obtained from the national Population Information System of Finland. A total of 373 completed surveys (25%) were received. The mean age of the final study population was 63.2 (SD 4.7) years and 225 (60.6%) identified themselves as women. This study focuses specifically on the open-ended questions of the survey. These focused on personal health information management and views of current and future eHealth services. Qualitative data were analyzed using content analysis.

Findings and conclusions

Older adults’ experiences of personal health information management and the use of and attitudes towards the role of digital health services are divided. Fears, trust, and motivation, as well as general everyday life information practices and routines, guide their experiences and behavior with digital health records. Without any limits in resources or available technologies when developing a digital health service, according to respondents, the best possible service would contain versatile health information and combine information from different sectors of healthcare. It would be easy to use, clear and up-to-date, but would also allow the possibility to contact a real human being, a healthcare professional, for instance, via video connection.


  • Knapova, L., Klocek, A., & Elavsky, S. (2020.) The Role of Psychological Factors in Older Adults’ Readiness to Use eHealth Technology: Cross-Sectional Questionnaire Study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(5), e14670. https://www.jmir.org/2020/5/e14670/

Heidi Enwald1, Noora Hirvonen1, Kristina Eriksson-Backa2, Isto Huvila3
1University of Oulu, Finland; 2Åbo Akademi University, Finland; 3Uppsala University, Sweden

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