A program to improve digital access and literacy among community stakeholders: Cohort study

Brittany F. Drazich, Yeukai Nyikadzino, Kelly T. Gleason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: For many research teams, the role of community stakeholders is critical. However, community stakeholders, especially those in low-income settings, are at risk of being excluded from research and community engagement initiatives during and after the COVID-19 pandemic because of the rapid transition to digital operations. Objective: We aimed to describe the implementation and feasibility of a program called Addressing the Digital Divide to Improve Patient-Centered Outcomes Research, which was designed to address barriers to technology use, and to examine changes in participants' perceived comfort with digital technology before and after the program. Methods: To promote full engagement, we worked with 20 existing community leaders to cocreate a training course on using digital technology. We assessed the frequency of technology use and comfort with technology through an adapted 8-item version of the Functional Assessment of Comfort Employing Technology Scale and used the Wilcoxon signed-rank test for survey analysis. We also conducted a focus group session with 10 participants and then performed reflective journaling and content analysis to determine emergent themes. Results: We found that the program was feasible to implement and worthwhile for participants (15/16, 94%). After the program, the participants perceived an increase in the frequency of technology use (z=2.76, P=.006). The participants reported that the program was successful because of the technology training program, but recommended that the program have a slower pace and include a helpline number that they could call with questions. Conclusions: Future programs should consider that populations with low literacy view technology training as a core element to decreasing technology disparity. This study demonstrates that through low-cost input, community members can be provided the resources and training needed to virtually participate in research studies or community engagement initiatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere30605
JournalJMIR Formative Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Community
  • Digital access
  • Digital divide
  • Digital health
  • Digital literacy
  • Disparities
  • Patient-centered outcomes
  • Stakeholders
  • Technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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